Hives are a common allergic reaction; they tend to be itchy, raised welts on the skin, and they can be red, pink, or flesh-toned. Most of the time, hives are temporary, and they will go away on their own, or they can also be alleviated with medication. However, on rare occasions, they can be chronic which likely indicates an underlying health concern like an unidentified allergy. Read on for more.
As mentioned above, hives are caused by an allergic reaction to an external stimulus; it can be something that has been ingested or encountered. The hives themselves are usually welts that appear on the skin. During an allergic reaction, the body releases histamines, which attempt to defend the body; however, the histamines can cause hives and other reactions. Hives are not limited to allergic reactions. Sometimes stress, exercise, infections, illness and exposure to temperatures on the extreme ends of the spectrum can also cause hives.
As mentioned above, allergic reactions are the most common cause of hives, and they can result from exposure to any number of allergens, including foods, dust, pets, pollen, medications or insect bites or stings. However, these are usually considered to be mild cases, and they are easily treated by allergy meds and avoidance.
In some cases, the allergic reaction might be more severe, and anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. Anaphylactic shock usually manifests itself as hives, severe swelling, breathing difficulties and nausea or vomiting. It needs to be treated immediately; usually, an epi-pen is used to deliver a dose of adrenaline to keep the throat from closing.
While chronic hives are not life-threatening, they can be incredibly annoying and uncomfortable. They tend to occur because it is hard to identify a trigger, and therefore the trigger cannot be avoided. Chronic hives can be ongoing for several years in extreme cases. In some instances, chronic hives can be a symptom of an underlying health condition.
To treat your hives, you first need to work out why you have them. Do your own research and try to narrow down the causes using resources online like the ones available from Patient. After you have an idea, you should approach your GP with your concerns. Once they have confirmed that you are suffering from hives, they can offer you blood tests or skin prick tests to determine whether your hives are the result of contact with an allergen or an underlying skin condition.
Despite the fact that hives often feel incredibly itchy and uncomfortable, they are only temporary, and they do disappear on their own. That being said, unless you are able to identify the underlying cause and avoid the irritant, they will continue to happen. Mild cases of hives are relatively harmless. However, more severe cases like the hives that result from anaphylaxis can be dangerous. Serious allergic reactions can be life-threatening and should be taken seriously. If you experience difficulty breathing or throat swelling alongside your hives, you should call 999.