Hives, also known as urticaria, is an allergic reaction to allergens, which causes the skin to break out in pale red, swollen, itchy bumps or plaques. An allergic reaction is a negative immune response caused by a substance, or allergen, that the body has become hypersensitive to. Allergies can come in all shapes and sizes, and so can their reactions.
Seasonal allergies, however, is the reaction you may experiences during changing seasons, specifically fall and spring. This is when pollen levels are higher and causes your body stress while you react and cope with the changing levels. These aren’t necessarily allergies but cause the same reaction. Allergies are specific substances, or allergens, that your body has an adverse reaction to at any time. If you suffer from allergies, it is important to understand what hives are, their symptoms and how to treat them.
What are Hives?
Hives is an allergic reaction to allergens. Temperature extremes, stress, infection and illness can also cause hives, but is less likely. They can cause itching, stinging or even burning. They appear on the skin, or anywhere on the body, including the face, hands and tongue. Hives normally appear in three different shapes: tiny bumps, blotches or large connected raised sites, also known as plaques. Diagnosing hives can be difficult; so, make sure to take special note of your symptoms and even consider taking photos of the irritated site. There is no test to diagnose hives so a thorough skin test or blood test may need to be performed.
Know the types
- Individual Hives: These hives last from around a few hours to up to a week. Individual hives are more common than any other type and the least severe. This can appear from any stressor mentioned above, like an allergen to extreme temperatures.
- Acute Hives: Acute hives last from about a week to six weeks. Commonly, acute hives are a reaction to foods, medications or insects that you may be allergic to. If you experience acute hives, it’s important to see a dermatologist or allergist to get tested and see what you may be allergic to.
- Chronic Hives: This includes hives lasting more than six weeks. It is extremely hard to diagnose but many believe it stems from more serious illnesses like cancer or hepatitis. If you are struggling from a disease or illness and experience hives lasting more than six weeks, talk to your doctor about specific ways to safely treat them.
- Antihistamines: These can be store bought in a cream or prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist as a pill. Store bought antihistamine cream works to soothe affected skin and relieve the itch. If prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist, antihistamines may be taken regularly to stop hives from appearing in the first place.
- Cool Compress: Soak a towel in cold water or wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it firmly to the inflamed area. This will calm the inflammation of the skin, lowering the raised areas of the skin and calming the itchier ones.
- Visit a Dermatologist: If you experience hives, especially acute or chronic, visit your dermatologist. There, they can ask you questions on symptoms and family history, as well as performing an allergy test. This can help you understand why you get hives and ways to avoid the allergens that trigger the reaction.
Treating and diagnosing hives can be difficult. While there are a number of home remedies to treat hives, it is still important to take careful note of your reaction and seek medical attention if your condition worsens or becomes a regular occurrence. At Knoxville Dermatology Group, the professional staff can help treat your hives, so you can live life more comfortably. To make an appointment, visit our website or call us at (865) 690-9467.