Hives (urticaria), also referred to as welts, may be a common skin condition with an itchy rash of pink to red bumps that appear and disappear anywhere on the body. An individual lesion of hives typically lasts a couple of hours (up to 24 hours) before dwindling , and new hives can appear as older areas disappear.
Physicians arbitrarily divide hives into acute (new or periodic episodes lasting fewer than 6 weeks) and chronic (periodic episodes lasting quite 6 weeks). Though many of us have one episode of acute hives that goes away within a couple of days to weeks, some individuals may have chronic hives that persist intermittently for years. More often than not, the offending agent is never identified in those who suffer from chronic hives.
Hives can be triggered by many things, including:
Ø Medications, especially aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, narcotic painkillers, and antibiotics Infections with viruses, bacteria, or fungi
Ø Environmental allergies such as insect bites, pollen, mold, and animal dander
Ø Physical exposures such as heat, cold, water, sunlight, and pressure
Ø Medical conditions including some blood diseases and cancer
Ø Food allergies such as from strawberries, eggs, nuts, and shellfish
In many cases, the causative agent is not identified despite extensive testing. This is referred to as idiopathic urticaria. In approximately 50% of idiopathic urticaria outbreaks, hives are most likely caused by a reaction from the person's own immune system (autoimmune reaction).
Who's at risk?
Hives appear in people of all ages, of all races, and of both sexes.
Acute hives are commonest in children and young adults, and chronic hives are more often seen in females, especially middle-aged women.
Hives are very common; it's estimated that up to twenty of the population may develop them at some point in their lives.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common locations for hives include:
Ø Upper arms or upper legs
Ø Hands and feet
An individual lesion of hives appears as a well-defined pink-to-red swelling, ranging in size from 2 mm to over 30 cm. Some lesions may develop a lighter center. Hives usually appear in groups or batches. They are classically incredibly itchy. Individual lesions of hives disappear within 24 hours, though one episode with the event of latest lesions may last for much longer .
Dermographism may be a sort of urticarial reaction that appears within a couple of minutes of scratching the skin. The rash is typically seen during a line (linear) pattern. This is usually a sign of a person with sensitive skin.
Swelling of the eyes, mouth, hands, feet, or genitals can sometimes occur with hives. This swelling, called angioedema, usually goes away within 24 hours, but it are often quite severe and life-threatening when swelling of the airway occurs.
Usually itchy, hives can also burn or sting.
If you are experiencing mild hives, you might:
Ø Take cool showers.
Ø Apply cool compresses.
Ø Wear loose-fitting clothes.
Ø Avoid strenuous activity.
Ø Use an over-the-counter antihistamine such as diphenhydramine or loratadine.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
After confirming that you simply have hives, the physician will work with you to get the possible cause. Your doctor will take an in depth medical record and should do blood work, urine tests, or X-rays.
Obviously, the simplest treatment for hives is to get any triggers and stop your exposure to them. However, most of the people with hives don't know the cause, and that they require medications to urge obviate them.
The most common medications for hives include:
Ø Sleep-causing (sedating) type-1 antihistamines such as diphenhydramine or hydroxyzine
Ø Non-sleep-causing (non-sedating) type-1 antihistamines such as loratadine, fexofenadine, desloratadine, or cetirizine
Ø Type-2 antihistamines such as ranitidine, cimetidine, or famotidine
Ø Montelukast, zafirlukast, or zileuton
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