hives

hives

Hives

Hives, also known as urticaria, are itchy, raised welts that are found on the skin. They are generally red, pink, or flesh-colored, and sometimes they sting or hurt. In most cases, hives are caused by an allergic reaction to a medication or food or a reaction to an irritant in the environment.

In many cases, hives are an acute (temporary) problem that may be alleviated with allergy medications. Most rashes go away on their own. However, chronic (ongoing) cases, as well as hives accompanied by a severe allergic reaction, are larger medical concerns

What causes hives?

Hives are usually caused by an allergic reaction to something that you have encountered or swallowed. When you have an allergic reaction, your body begins to release histamines into your blood. Histamines are chemicals your body produces in an attempt to defend itself against infection and other outside intruders. Unfortunately, in some people, the histamines can cause swelling, itching, and many of the symptoms that are experienced with hives. In terms of allergens, hives can be caused by factors such as pollen, medications, food, animal dander, and insect bites.

Hives might also be caused by circumstances besides allergies. It’s not uncommon for people to experience hives as the result of stress, tight clothes, exercise, illnesses, or infections.

Who is at risk?

People who are known to have allergies are more likely to get hives. You may also be at risk to develop hives if you are on medication or if you are unknowingly exposed to things you may be allergic to, such as food or pollen. If you are already ill with an infection or a health condition, you may be more vulnerable to developing hives.

Can hives be prevented?

Simple changes to your lifestyle may be able to help you prevent hives from reoccurring in the future. If you have allergies and you know which substances are likely to cause an allergic reaction, your doctor will suggest that you avoid any possible exposure to these factors. Allergy shots are another option that may help you reduce the risk of experiencing hives again. Avoid being in high-humidity areas or wearing tight clothing if you have recently had a hives outbreak.