Urticaria, more commonly known as hives, are very common. Practically anyone could get them. In fact, the ACAAI, American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states that approximately 20% of people would get hives at some point in their lives. It could be easily triggered by various situations or substances and typically starts as a patch of itchy skin that transforms into red, swollen welts. The itchiness might be mild or severe and look like raised bumps that blanche, or turn white, when pressed.
Why Do You Get Hives?
Generally speaking, hives are triggered by an allergic reaction, explains a top family doctor in Miami. This means that it could be caused by a wide variety of potential allergens, which include the following:
- Certain foods, most especially nuts, dairy, shellfish, and eggs
- Certain medications including ibuprofen, aspirin, sulfa, and penicillin
- Insect bites or stings
- Pet dander
- Certain plants including poison ivy and poison oak
- Physical stimuli including heat, cold, sun exposure, or exercise
- Certain bacterial infections such as strep throat and urinary tract infections
- Certain viral infections such as the common cold, hepatitis, and mononucleosis
- Blood transfusions
Hives could appear within seconds to an hour or two of being exposed to a trigger, and depending on the severity and cause, could resolve on its own or might require medication to relieve it.
Other Crucial Things to Know About Hives
Hives come in two types: acute or short-term and chronic or long term. While acute hives usually go away on its own without intervention, chronic hives appear almost every day for six weeks or more, are usually intolerably itchy and could last for a day. If your hives don’t go away in one month or if they appear every so often, it’s best that you consult an allergist so that you could figure out your triggers and how to best avoid them.
Treatment of hives range from applying cool compresses to alleviate itching to taking antihistamines, and other anti-inflammatory medicines to modify the immune system. It’s also immensely vital to note that while hives are rarely life-threatening if you experience breathing difficulties and swelling in your throat, you need to seek emergency care right away.