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What Are Hives Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
If youve never experienced a bout of hives, consider yourself lucky. Roughly 20 percent of people do get hives at some point in their lives, making it a very common ailment. Hives can be a source of physical and mental anguish, especially if they appear frequently and continue happening for months or years.
Research And Statistics: How Common Are Hives
About 1 in 5 people will experience hives at some point in their lives. And more than 10 percent of children will experience hives at least once.
About 1 in 20 people will experience chronic hives, which are episodes that last for more than six weeks. About half of people with chronic hives still have them after antihistamine treatment. And for about half of cases, the trigger of chronic hives is unknown. Twenty percent of chronic hives patients suffer for more than five years. Chronic hives are more common among women than men.
Much of the research surrounding hives in the past couple of years has focused on the effectiveness of omalizumab . Its an anti-immunoglobulin E antibody that was somewhat recently approved as a treatment option and is available by prescription. Its now recommended to treat chronic hives.
Other studies from the past two years include:
Much of the research thats currently being done regarding hives involves testing whether certain medications are effective treatment options, such as fenebrutinib, AK002, UB-221, ligelizumab, and dupilumab.
Finally, researchers are also exploring how vitamin D levels among hives patients compare with those of others and how vitamin D supplementation affects the severity of hives.
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What Gets Rid Of Hives Fast
Avoid overheating. Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes. Apply a cold compress, such as ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth, to the itchy skin several times a dayunless cold triggers your hives. Use anti-itch medication that you can buy without a prescription, such as an antihistamine or calamine lotion.
Related: 3 Ways To Outsmart Allergies
5. Youre Wearing Too-Tight ClothesSome people will develop hives in areas where there is more pressure on the skin, such as on the bottom of their feet and underneath tightly-fitting clothing or underwear, says Brod. He recommends resisting the urge to scratchand wearing loose-fitting clothing.
6. You Have an Autoimmune DiseaseIf you still have hives after an extended period of time , an autoimmune disease may be to blame. Lupus or thyroid disease can cause hives, says Ploch, who adds that type 1 diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, and celiac disease could also be to blame. Attributing hives to an autoimmune disease is often a process of elimination, though, she says, so its important to check in with your doctor.
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Can Hives Be A Sign Of Something Serious
Hives are a common skin concern that doesnt always have a clear cause. However, these red itchy bumps can also be a sign of an underlying health condition. If you break out in hives often, its worth seeing your dermatologist and discussing potential causes. Heres what you should know about hives and your health.
What Are Some Common Triggers
Even though doctors canât say for sure what causes CIU, they do know things that can lead to flare-ups. They include:
- Alcoholic drinks
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen
- What other symptoms you have
- If youâre taking new meds
Theyâll also ask about the foods you eat and if you have pets, to see if an allergy is to blame. They may check for other illnesses or conditions that could be causing the hives, like an overactive or underactive thyroid.
If they canât find a cause, youâll likely be diagnosed with CSU.
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If You Experience Hives Often Or They’re Severe You Need To Deal With Them Asap
One way to address the underlying cause of hives is to review the last few days. “If hives happen, I recommend going back through the past 48 hours and writing down everything you did and ate,” said Blake. Even if you don’t find a cause, Blake said that the next time it happens, there’s a better chance that a doctor can find a cause.
NYC Dermatologist, Dr. Hadley King, MD, also told INSIDER that taking an oral antihistamine regularly on a daily basis for a period of time can treat current hives as well as prevent new ones.
So, how do you know when your hives are beyond OTC treatment? “Anyone with chronic hives absolutely needs to be evaluated by a physician, because causes of hives can be serious,” explained Blake. The most concerning, said Blake, are certain cancers, autoimmune diseases, lupus being the most common, and infections, especially parasites or hepatitis, and vasculitis, where the blood vessels of the body are being attacked, so it’s worth seeing a doctor to try and determine a cause as soon as you can.
When To Call Your Dermatologist
You should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist whenever youre concerned about your skin. And hives are no exception. However, there are a few hives symptoms that always warrant a call to your dermatologist.
Book a dermatology appointment if your hives last for six weeks or longer. Hives that persist for this long are considered chronic hives. You should also note whether your hives appear with other symptoms. For example, if you have allergic reaction hives, you might have difficulty breathing or a swollen tongue after eating as well. Your dermatologist may refer you to an allergist or other health professional to diagnose any underlying conditions, but they may prescribe antihistamines and topical creams for treatment.
If youre experiencing frequent hives outbreaks, the team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists can recommend next steps. We offer hives treatment among our medical dermatology services. With locations in Redondo Beach, CA and other communities in the Greater Los Angeles area, we also provide cosmetic and surgical services to support your skin needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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When To Seek Help
If a person has flare-ups of hives for 6 weeks or longer, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends visiting a board-certified allergist, dermatologist, or primary care doctor.
If someone experiences severe hives inside their mouth or airways that affect breathing, call 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department. This could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, which can make it hard to breathe.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
Lifestyle Triggers Are A More Common Cause
Stress is a part of life. That said, if you find yourself breaking out in hives after a stressful or emotional meeting at work, interaction with a family member, rush-hour traffic or any situation that may cause your emotions to go into overdrive, Blake said you need to deal with your stress in a healthy way. “Music, meditation, and obviously, avoiding any more exposure to the trigger is important,” he said.
If your stress if severe enough to cause hives, though, it may also be worth speaking with someone you trust, like a mental-health professional about managing your stress in a healthy way.
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Favorite Resource To Find An Allergist
Generally, youll visit a primary care doctor first, but he or she may recommend you schedule an appointment with an allergist. The AAAAIs Find an Allergist tool can help you find an allergist or immunologist close to where you live.
How Are Hives And Swelling Diagnosed
Your doctor can diagnose hives and swelling by looking at your skin. Allergy tests can help identify whats triggering a reaction. Knowing the cause can help you avoid allergens, hives and swelling. Allergy tests include:
- Skin tests: During this test, healthcare providers test different allergens on your skin. If your skin turns red or swells, it means youre allergic to that substance. This type of allergy test is also called a skin prick or scratch test. Skin testing is not commonly done if hives are chronic in nature.
- Blood tests: A blood test checks for specific antibodies in your blood. Your body makes antibodies to fight off allergens. The process is part of your immune system but if your body makes too many, it can cause hives and swelling.
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Can I Prevent Hives
Yes and no. The answer is “yes” if you know what causes your hive. If you know something causes you trouble, you can try to avoid it. If you get hives when you’re nervous, relaxation breathing exercises may help. But if you don’t know why you get hives, it’s tough to prevent them.
Some kids get hives when they have a virus, such as a bad cold or stomach flu. Other than washing your hands regularly, there’s not much you can do to avoid getting sick occasionally.
The good news is that hives usually aren’t serious and you might even grow out of them. Who wouldn’t want to give hives the heave-ho?
How Are Hives Treated
In many cases, mild hives won’t need treatment and will go away on their own. If a definite trigger is found, avoiding it is part of the treatment. If the hives feel itchy, the doctor may recommend an antihistamine medicine to block the release of histamine in the bloodstream and prevent breakouts.
For chronic hives, the doctor may suggest that you take a non-sedating prescription or over-the-counter antihistamine every day. Not everyone responds to the same medicines, though, so it’s important to work with the doctor to find the right one for you.
If a non-drowsy antihistamine doesn’t work, the doctor may suggest a stronger antihistamine, another medicine, or a combination of medicines. In rare cases, a doctor may prescribe a steroid pill or liquid to treat chronic hives. Usually this is done for just a short period to prevent harmful steroid side effects.
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What Are The Complications Of Hives And Swelling
Anyone who has a severe allergic reaction could have life-threatening swelling of the airways your throat and lungs. This condition is known as anaphylaxis. It can potentially close off the airways, resulting in death.
Anaphylaxis is often triggered by a severe allergic reaction to a certain food, like peanuts and tree nuts, or a bee sting. People having anaphylaxis need an immediate shot of epinephrine, such as injectable epinephrine . Epinephrine opens airways, raises blood pressure and reduces hives and swelling. If epinephrine is used outside of the medical setting, a trip to the ER is warranted, since symptoms can return if epinephrine wears off.
Mayo Clinic Q And A: Chronic Hives Come And Go With No Clear Pattern
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I woke up this morning with itchy, red welts covering my arms and legs. These have shown up every now and then over the past few months, and now they seem worse than usual. What could be causing this? How is it treated?
ANSWER: What you may be experiencing is chronic hives. Hives are raised, red or white itchy welts on your skin. A sudden onset of hives usually has an identifiable cause or trigger such as insect stings or bites, medications, certain foods, allergens, or infections. Acute hives go away within a few weeks and are usually effectively treated with antihistamines.
Chronic hives are different in that they persist for more than six weeks. The hives seem to come and go with no clear pattern fading over the course of a day or two and then reappearing in a different location a few days later.
Anyone can develop chronic hives, but theyre more common in middle-aged women. Chronic hives can go on for months and even years. They can interfere with sleep, work and other activities. Itching can be severe and may be accompanied by painful swelling. Signs and symptoms tend to flare up with heat, exercise or stress.
One of the biggest sources of frustration with chronic hives is wondering whats causing them. The truth is that its hard to know. Up to 90 percent of cases remain unexplained no external factor or contributing disease can be pinpointed as the cause.
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Breaking Out In Hives For No Apparent Reason
Many thyroid conditions have been and continue to be incorrectly diagnosed through exclusive use of TSH testing as the sole signifier of possible thyroid dysfunction. Unfortunately, TSH is wrongly considered by the majority of endocrinologists and many other physicians to be the only indicator required to produce an accurate and comprehensive analysis of ones thyroid health. Because of this many people come away from their physicians as being misdiagnosed or having their thyroid condition completely disregarded. Download the National Academy of Hypothyroidisms recommended lab tests and take them to your doctor!
Causes And Risk Factors Of Hives
Although hives can have many causes, they all get their start when immune cells in your body called mast cells are activated. In many cases, those mast cells release a chemical called histamine that can cause swelling, itching, and redness. Although not all hives are the result of histamine being released, the vast majority are, Dr. Elmariah says. Heres the real question, though: Whats causing those mast cells to react in the first place?
Thats a relatively easy question to answer if you have acute hives. We can generally identify about 50 percent of the triggers after taking a good history of the patient and getting the full story behind the incident, Dr. Friedman says.
Chronic hives, however, often have different outcomes, and unfortunately, although about 50 percent of hive cases will be resolved within a year of entering the chronic phase, some people will have hives their entire life. With chronic hives, we can rarely identify why theyre happening, and the longer somebody has hives, the less likely it is that theyll go away, says Friedman, adding that 20 percent can continue for longer than 10 years.
Nonallergic causes consist of bacterial and viral infections exercise stress pressure on or scratching the skin chemical contact exposure to sun, heat, or cold and autoimmune disorders like thyroid diseases and lupus, especially in the case of chronic hives.
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What Is The Prognosis For People With Hives And Swelling
For most people, hives dont cause serious problems. Children often outgrow allergies that cause hives.
For some people, angioedema can cause anaphylaxis severe swelling of the airways and lungs. People with this life-threatening condition should carry injectable epinephrine to treat severe allergic reactions.
Favorite Online Community For Support
This site brings together people with chronic spontaneous urticaria, which is a term that describes chronic hives with no explanation for whats causing them. The site has information about the condition, videos from people sharing their experience with hives, and The Hive, which allows people to send virtual support for people battling the condition.
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Can You Prevent Hives
Sois there any good news here? As usual, an ounce of prevention is the way to go:The best way to deal with hives is to try to identify and avoid triggers in thefirst place. If you are prone to hives , beproactive.
Itdoesnt hurt to keep antihistamines on hand, especially if youre dealing witha stressful situation. Meanwhile, schedule time for self-care in your calendarto keep stress levels in check. And ask for help when you need it.
After all, theres no downside to stress management, Dr. Myers points out. Your whole body will thank you inside and out.
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Treatment And Medication Options For Hives
How you treat hives depends on how many youve had and how long youve been suffering. If you have one hive that goes away within 24 hours and youre not having any breathing issues, you probably dont need medical attention. Instead, you might take a nonsedating, over-the-counter antihistamine like loratadine/pseudoephedrine , fexofenadine , or cetirizine to ward off a second one from occurring, Friedman says.
If you do get a second hive, taking one of these antihistamines should be your first defense. Its more about prevention or active treatment, Friedman says.
If a single hive lasts for longer than 24 hours or is more painful than itchy, or if hives continue to come and go for six weeks or more, its time to visit a dermatologist. You can always start with your general physician to get a referral, but because dermatologists are skilled at dealing with hives, theyre your best bet for recommending the appropriate treatment, Rossi says. Dermatologists can also offer patch testing that can identify potential allergens that may cause hives when they come in contact with your skin.
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