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What are hives?

This is one of the most common skin conditions, caused by an allergic reaction. Hives are red, raised, itchy welts. They may spread or move, and in some cases, they swell together, giving the appearance of a single, large inflamed area. The hives themselves are harmless, but they can be an indication of a serious allergy.

Causes of hives

Mast cells are part of your body’s natural immune system and healing ability. These cells contain granular heparin and histamine. In an allergic reaction, they can become overactive, releasing excess amounts of histamine along with other compounds, causing leaks in small blood vessels.

Hives can occur as a result of an allergic reaction to virtually anything. The most common triggers include excess perspiration, stress, sun exposure, medications, foods, and animals.

Symptoms of hives

Hives appear as a very noticeable rash, developing soon after contacting or ingesting an allergen. The symptoms include:

  • Large patches or small rings with noticeable redness.
  • In most cases, hives itch.
  • Hives are usually raised.
  • The welts typically develop in batches and they may spread or move.

Treatment options for hives

In most cases, hives will disappear rather quickly without medical care. On average, an individual hive will be gone between 30 minutes and 36 hours from the time it appeared. In rare cases, they may persist longer. Over the counter antihistamine and anti-itch creams can ease the discomfort until they fade. The best solution for hives is avoiding triggers. If you do not know what is causing you to break out, talk to your dermatologist.

Hives that have not cleared up within six weeks are considered chronic. These are known as urticaria. Your dermatologist may prescribe a stronger antihistamine cream or other medication for chronic hives. If swelling develops below the surface of the skin, you should seek medical attention. This condition, known as angioedema, can become dangerous because it can affect the organs.

If you have any skin concerns including ongoing problems with hives, visit Dr. W Dermatology in Houston. Call us at 281 771-0494 and schedule your appointment today.

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