Hives are a skin reaction; it appears red with itchy welts. The size and appearance of bumps may vary from person to person. In chronic hives, welts seem for more than six weeks and may frequently recur after some months or years. Chronic hives can be uncomfortable and interfere with your daily activities and sleep. In some cases, hives are caused by an allergic reaction to medications or food.
Types of hives
1. Allergic reaction hives
It is the most common type of hives caused by allergens, including;
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Insect bites or sitting
It is a severe, life-threatening type of hives. It can come with;
- Difficulty in breathing
- Severe swelling
3. Chronic hives
It is also called Urticaria, which interferes with your lifestyle. It can last from six weeks to several months or years. Hives are uncomfortable and challenging to treat. Underlying health problems may cause the chronic hives, such as;
- Celiac disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Thyroid problem
- Rheumatoid arthritis
It is an acute or mild form of hives caused by excessive scratching and continued pressure on the skin. It usually ends up in a short time without treatment.
Sometimes temperature changes can cause hives, especially in temperature-sensitive people. Cold-induced hives are caused by cold water or air, while the heat produced in physical activity like exercise cause exercise-induced hives.
Viral and bacterial infections can cause hives. Common bacterial infections cause hives, such as urinary tract infections and sore throats. Hepatitis and colds can also cause a viral infection.
Symptoms of Hives
Signs and symptoms of chronic conditions are;
- Red batches can occur anywhere in the body.
- Welts can vary in size, shape, and appearance, which frequently fade as the reaction runs its route.
- Severe itching.
- Painful swelling (inside the throat, eyelids, lips).
- Signs and symptoms can be triggered by heat, exercise and stress.
- It may last up to six weeks or more and may recur frequently and unpredictably.
- In the short term hives, they appear suddenly and clear up within a few weeks.
If you see continued severe hives or hives that appear continually for many days, you should visit a doctor.
Seek emergency medical care
Chronic hives don’t give you a sudden risk of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you feel hives with an allergic reaction, seek emergency medical care. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include;
- Trouble in breathing
- Swelling of the lips, eyelids and tongue.
Causes of hives
The welts or batches with hives appear when certain chemicals and histamine are released into the bloodstream. Sometimes doctors cannot identify the main causes/reason for chronic or acute hives, and it turns into a long-term problem. The causes are;
- Pain medications
- Insects or parasites
- Heat or cold
- Pressure on the skin (tight waistbands)
- Some certain diseases (underlying illnesses)
Diagnosis of hives
Doctors will ask you many questions and do a physical exam to understand the leading cause and signs. Questions may be following;
- Medications, herbal or supplements that you take
- Your activities or daily routine
- Eating pattern (what you eat and drink)
- Check where the hives appear and how much time welt to fade
- Have your hives come with pain?
Your physical exam and medical history show you hive details and underlying causes. Doctors may suggest some tests such as blood tests and skin tests.
Treatment of hives
Your doctor will recommend treating hives with home remedies, such as an over-the-counter antihistamine. If this self-care step didn’t relieve you, go to medical treatment like prescription medicines.
Antihistamines: Taking antihistamine pills can block the symptoms of releasing histamine. They may cause few side effects. Examples are;
If the antihistamine doesn’t work well, your doctor may change the dose and time. Visit your doctor before taking these medications during breastfeeding or pregnancy.
If antihistamines don’t relieve the symptoms alone, other drugs may help with symptoms, including;
- Histamine blockers: These medications are H-2 receptor antagonists taken orally or in the form of injection.
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: Oral corticosteroids that reduce the swelling, redness, and itching, such as prednisone. They generally help short-term control chronic hives and cause side effects if used long-term.
- Antidepressants: Tricyclic doxepin is an antidepressant used in creams and can help reduce itching. But it may cause dizziness and drowsiness.
- Asthma drugs with antihistamines: These medications can interfere with leukotriene modifiers, which may be helpful when combined with antihistamines.
- Manufactured antibodies: The drug Xolair effectively treats chronic hives. It is an injectable drug that is given once a month.
- Immune-suppressing drugs: Cyclosporine and Tacrolimus are used to treat hives.
Chronic hives can last up to months or years. They can interfere with your daily routines such as work, sleep and other activities. The following precautions can help to soothe the symptoms of hives;
- Wear light and loose cloth.
- Avoid scratching.
- Avoid using harsh soaps.
- Use anti-itch creams, lotions, bath, fan, and a cool material/fabric on the affected area.
- Avoid known triggers.
- Before going outside, use sunscreens.
- Keep a diary/list of hives occurring, what they were doing, when they go, and what you are eating on those days.
- Use a cold compress.
- Avoid certain products that irritate the skin.
- Try aloe Vera.
- Calamine lotions.
- https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-hives/symptoms-causes/syc-20352719#:~:text=Hives%20(urticaria)%20are%20red%2C,frequently%20over%20months%20or%20years retrieved on March 23, 2022.
- https://www.healthline.com/health/hives retrieved on March 23, 2022.
- https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-disorders/how-to-get-rid-of-hives retrieved on March 23, 2022.
- https://www.webmd.com/skin problems and treatments/guide/hives-urticaria-angioedema retrieved on March 23, 2022.