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Hives: Types, Causes & Treatment

Hives: Types, Causes & Treatment

Max Lab

Apr 17, 2023

Are you experiencing itchy, red bumps on your skin that seem to appear out of nowhere? If so, you may be dealing with hives. Hives are a common skin condition that affects people of all ages and can be caused by a variety of factors. In this blog post, we will dive into everything you need to know about hives - from what they are and what causes them, to the different types and how to treat them. 

What are Hives?

Hives, also known as urticaria, are a skin condition characterized by red, itchy bumps that can appear anywhere on the body. These bumps may vary in size and shape but usually have raised edges and are surrounded by a pale halo. Hives can occur suddenly and disappear quickly or last for several hours to days.

What Causes Hives?

Hives, also known as urticaria, are a skin condition that causes red and itchy bumps to appear on the skin. While hives can be quite uncomfortable, they are usually harmless and will go away on their own within a few hours or days. However, understanding what causes hives can help prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Hives occur when your body releases histamine into your bloodstream in response to an allergen or irritant. Common allergens include certain foods such as shellfish and nuts, medications like penicillin and aspirin, insect bites or stings, pet dander, pollen and latex.

In addition to allergens, other factors may trigger hives including stress, exercise or exposure to extreme temperatures like heat or cold. Viral infections like colds can also cause hives in some people.

Types of Hives

Hives or urticaria come in different shapes and sizes. They can appear on any part of the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat, ears, hands or feet. There are two main types of hives: acute and chronic.

  1. Acute: Acute hives usually last less than six weeks and are often caused by an allergic reaction to food, medication or insect bites. They can also be triggered by physical factors such as heat, cold or pressure.
  2. Chronic: Chronic hives last longer than six weeks and may be caused by an underlying medical condition such as thyroid disease or autoimmune disorders. In some cass, the cause remains unknown.

There are also several subtypes of hives based on their appearance and triggers. These include:

  • Dermatographism: Hives that form after rubbing or scratching the skin
  • Cholinergic urticaria: Hives triggered by sweating during exercise or hot showers
  • Cold urticaria: Hives triggered by exposure to cold temperatures
  • Solar urticaria: Rare type of hives triggered by sunlight

How to Treat Hives

When it comes to treating hives, there are several options available depending on the severity of the outbreak. One of the first steps is to identify and remove any potential triggers that may be causing the hives.

For mild cases, over-the-counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine or cetirizine can help relieve itching and reduce swelling. Applying a cool compress or taking a soothing oatmeal bath can also provide temporary relief.

In more severe cases, prescription medications like corticosteroids or immunosuppressants may be necessary to manage symptoms. It's important to always follow your doctor's instructions when taking these medications as they can have potential side effects.

Additionally, avoiding tight-fitting clothing and using fragrance-free products can prevent irritation and further outbreaks. Avoiding extreme temperatures, stress-inducing situations and polluted environments may also help decrease flare-ups.

When to see a doctor for hives

If you're experiencing hives for the first time, it's important to understand that they aren't always a cause for alarm. In many cases, they will go away on their own within a few hours or days without any medical intervention. However, there are certain situations where seeking medical attention is necessary.

If your hives persist for more than 24 hours despite taking antihistamines and other over-the-counter remedies, you should schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Additionally, if you experience difficulty breathing or swelling of the lips or tongue along with your hives, seek immediate medical attention as these symptoms can be signs of a severe allergic reaction.

Maxlab offers an exhaustive list of tests for a comprehensive diagnosis of your health. Take a look at Max Allergy profile test for detecting allergy in your body.

Conclusion

Hives may be a common condition, but it can still cause discomfort and frustration. Knowing the causes and types of hives can help you prevent or manage outbreaks. Identifying triggers such as stress or certain foods and avoiding them may reduce your risk of getting hives. However, if you do experience an outbreak, there are various ways to relieve symptoms like applying cold compresses or taking antihistamines.

It's important to remember that while most cases of hives aren't life-threatening, some rare forms can be serious. If you have severe symptoms like difficulty breathing or swelling in your throat, seek medical attention immediately.

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