What Causes Chronic Hives
For most people with chronic hives, theres no known cause. Rarely, medication allergies or food allergies cause chronic hives. The most common allergic cause is something you consume on a regular basis. Other types of allergies may also bring on chronic hives.
Some people develop chronic hives when their body changes temperature rapidly due to heat, cold or physical activity. Pressure on your skin from tight clothing may also cause the condition.
What Causes Hives And Swelling
Allergens can causes these reactions. An allergen is a substance your body doesnt like, and your bodys immune system reacts by releasing chemicals called histamines. Histamines are a chemical made by allergy cells and other immune cells that goes into overdrive to get rid of the allergen. But your body may respond to the flood of histamines by having an allergic reaction that causes hives and swelling.
People get hives and angioedema from all kinds of things, including:
Serious Problems That Hives Could Indicate
Urticaria, or hives, is a frequent symptom experienced by people with allergies to various foods or medication and viral diseases. It is also one of the most common skin conditions seen by allergists. The reason it is so complex because of the number of different causes, making it difficult to pinpoint the root of the problem.
Typically, hives are not life-threatening, but the condition is unpleasant and the symptoms, such as itchy, red welts, are uncomfortable. However, hives can also be the underlying symptom of more severe autoimmune illnesses and conditions.
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What Are Chronic Hives
Chronic hives are itchy, raised, red bumps or welts that appear on your skin at least twice per week. These welts, also called wheals, are chronic when they last more than six weeks.
You may hear this condition called chronic idiopathic urticaria:
- Chronic: A symptom or condition that persists even with treatment.
- Idiopathic: The symptom or condition occurs for no known reason. It comes on suddenly.
- Urticaria: The medical term for hives, pronounced ur-tik-CARE-ee-uh.
Are The Hives On My Face Dangerous
In my experience, just over half of the people we’ve heard from with hives on their face also have angioedema, which causes uncomfortable swelling beneath the skin. When this causes throat swelling, some people can have breathing difficulties, which can result in death if not treated quickly by your local emergency room. If you find that you are having problems breathing, seek immediate medical help! If you also have a fever, this may be a sign of an infection and you should contact your primary care physician to discuss treatment options.
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When You Have Flare
Make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist, allergist, or primary care doctor. Most people who have hives are otherwise healthy, but its still helpful to see a doctor.A thorough medical exam can help rule out possible causes, such as an infection or medication, which could be causing your hives.Its also possible for a disease, such as a thyroid condition, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes to cause hives. If signs indicate that this may be the cause, medical testing can find or rule out these causes.While medications and medical conditions can cause hives, there are many other causes, including foods, insect bites, and pressure on the skin. Sometimes, its not possible to find the cause. If that happens, your dermatologist can still recommend lifestyle changes and prescribe medication that can help reduce your flare-ups.
Take photos of your hives. When your see your dermatologist, you may not have hives. Taking pictures can help your dermatologist make sure you have hives. Other skin conditions can look like hives.
Relieve the itch at home. Itch is common in people who have chronic hives. Here are some ways to get temporary relief:
Favorite Online Community For Support
This site brings together people with chronic idiopathic 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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How Are Acute Hives Diagnosed
For most cases of acute hives, you don’t need to see a doctor.
- If you notice a trigger causes you to get hives, try to avoid it.
- Avoid anything that may worsen hives, such as heat, tight clothes and alcohol.
- Most people with acute hives do not need tests, unless they go on for a long time or you have unusual symptoms around the same time.
- If the suspected cause is allergy, skin or blood tests may be done.
An Adverse Reaction To Exercise And Environment
Although a daily dose of thirty minutes of exercise is highly recommended, it may also be causing an individual to break out in hives. The body produces a chemical that can inhibit cell breakdown as cause rashes, known as acetylcholine, during exercise as a natural bodily response. Sweating is also known to cause a breakout of hives in those who are already prone to the condition. The sweat itself is not causing the hives, but the excess warmth of the skin can irritate the area concerned. Managing the inhabited environment, exercise, and what is consumed is paramount if hives are affecting an individual on a regular basis. There are also many environmental occurrences that can cause hives to break out such as excess heat, powerful winds, bug bites, and some plants are known to cause a breakout. If environmental concerns are worrisome, talk to a health professional about taking an antihistamine to reduce skin irritability.
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How Long Do Hives Last
The duration of hives depends on the trigger. Acute hives caused by allergic reactions last off and on no longer than 6 weeks. If you experience incessant outbreaks of hives on a near daily basis for more than 6 weeks, then it is considered a chronic case.
Most individual hives, however, do not last more than 24 hours. Some eruptions may only last for a few minutes to an hour. Ideally, hives resolve when the triggering factor is removed.
Chronic hives are much harder to get rid of as the immune system is intricately involved, and their causes can be difficult to pinpoint despite testing.
Favorite Resource To Find A Dermatologist
Your primary care doctor may recommend that you visit a dermatologist instead of an allergist, depending on your symptoms and suspected triggers. If you dont currently have a dermatologist, visit this site from the American Academy of Dermatology. The Find a Dermatologist tool allows you to search by location or a specific doctors name. The results will show dermatologists that meet your search criteria. Click on the name to view more about the doctor, such as where theyre located, what they specialize in, and the qualifications they have.
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What Do Hives Look Like On The Skin
These itchy welts can appear on the skin in many ways, as the following pictures of hives show.
Hives develop in batches
Hives appear suddenly, causing a rash of smooth, raised welts that tend to differ in size and shape. The welts can be small, large, or somewhere in between. Some hives are as big as a hand.
The color of hives varies with skin color
If you have brown or black skin, hives are often the same color as your skin, or slightly darker or lighter than your natural skin color. People who have a light or medium complexion see red or pink hives.
Individual hives come and go quickly, usually within 24 hours
As some hives disappear, new hives may form. Most people have a case of hives for a few days to a few weeks. If new hives continue to appear for more than 6 weeks, you have a condition called chronic hives.
Skin itches, burns, or stings and feels warm to the touch
Hives can itch, sometimes intensely. Some people say that hives burn or sting rather than itch. Because the skin is inflamed, hives often feel warm to the touch.
Hives can cover large areas of skin
Some people get hives in a few places. Its also possible for hives to cover a large portion of the body, which can feel uncomfortable because hives tend to itch.
A telltale sign of hives is blanching
This means that if you have a light or medium skin color, pressing on a hive will cause the red or pink color to disappear while youre pressing on it.
Hives usually appear as distinct raised spots or patches
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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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.
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 AAAIs Find an Allergist tool can help you find an allergist or immunologist close to where you live.
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Why Do I Have Hives All Of The Sudden
Do you have itchy skin, red skin? Do you want to know why do I have hives all of the sudden? In this article we will look at this question. We will also discuss what could be going on with your immune system, what some of the possible triggers could be and more importantly what you can do about it.
If you want to know why you have hives suddenly, keep reading.
I want to help you understand why you might have hives all of the sudden. There are many reasons why people develop hives. In general it’s going to be from the immune system. It is an increased activity in specific aspects of the immune system known as the mast cells. The number of mast cells and the activity of those mast cells are increased. Mast cells are a particular type of white blood cell that produce a lot of histamine. It is that histamine that creates the itching the redness burning and the stinging. Similar to if you get stung by a bee or or a mosquito. The body is reacting to the venom or the activity of that sting. The mast cells produce histamine that creates the itchiness and the burning there. The question is why are your cells doing this suddenly?
Clinical Features Of Urticaria
Urticarial weals can be a few millimetres or several centimetres in diameter, coloured white or red, with or without a red flare. Each weal may last a few minutes or several hours and may change shape. Weals may be round, or form rings, a map-like pattern or giant patches.
Urticaria can affect any site of the body and tends to be distributed widely.
Angioedema is more often localised. It commonly affects the face , hands, feet and genitalia. It may involve tongue, uvula, soft palate or larynx.
Serum sickness due to blood transfusion and serum sickness-like reactions due to certain drugs cause acute urticaria leaving bruises, fever, swollen lymph glands, joint pain and swelling.
In chronic inducible urticaria, weals appear about 5 minutes after the stimulus and last a few minutes or up to one hour. Characteristically, weals are:
- Tiny in cholinergic urticaria
- Confined to contact areas in contact urticaria
- Diffuse in cold urticariaif large areas of skin are affected, they can lead to fainting .
The weals are more persistent in chronic spontaneous urticaria, but each has gone or has altered in shape within 24 hours. They may occur at certain times of the day.
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Stress Rash Woes: What To Expect
Howlong can you expect to stay polka-dotted? Sorry to say it, but this gets worsebefore it gets better.
Itstotally normal for new hives to bubble up just as the firstwelts are fading. They will typically subside within a day or two, and you cantreat them with over-the-counter antihistamines.
Nowbrace yourself for this last bit of bad news: Even after they subside, hivesmay not be through with you yet. Hive breakouts often come and go in waves andcan flare up on and off for weeks.
Ifhives last longer than a few days, a doctor can help you figure out whatsgoing on.
Hives usually arent medical emergencies, though they can feel like a major disruption to your regularly scheduled programming. However, get medical attention post-haste if you have symptoms like fever or swelling of the mouth, tongue or lips, since those are signs of a more serious allergic reaction.
How Are Chronic Hives Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider can diagnose chronic hives by examining your skin and learning more about your symptoms.
Diagnostic tests for chronic hives can pinpoint or rule out causes. You may get one or more of these tests:
- Allergy test to see if an allergen is causing a reaction.
- Blood test to check for high levels of antibodies, proteins that help your body fight off bacteria, allergens and other substances.
- Urine test to look for bacterial infections.
- Skin biopsy procedure to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate for other causes.
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Other Ways To Get Relief From Hives
No matter the treatment course, avoid the urge to scratch the hives. You risk breaking the skin and getting an infection, Friedman says.
One of the best ways to relieve an itch is by using cold therapy . Use ice packs, a cool cloth, or a frozen bag of veggies like peas, or take a cool shower. Even better, stick a moisturizer in the fridge to cool it down, which will have a double-whammy effect against that itch, Rossi says.
What Causes Urticaria
Urticaria occurs when a trigger causes high levels of histamine and other chemical messengers to be released in the skin. These substances cause the blood vessels in the affected area of skin to open up and become leaky. This extra fluid in the tissues causes swelling and itchiness.
Histamine is released for many reasons, including:
- an allergic reaction like a food allergy or a reaction to an insect bite or sting
- cold or heat exposure
- certain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics
However, in many cases of urticaria, no obvious cause can be found.
Some cases of long-term urticaria may be caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue. However, this is difficult to diagnose and the treatment options are the same.
Certain triggers may also make the symptoms worse. These include:
Read more about the causes of urticaria.
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How Are Hives Treated
The best treatment for hives is to find and remove the trigger, but this is not an easy task. Antihistamines are usually prescribed by your doctor to provide relief from symptoms. Antihistamines work best if taken on a regular schedule to prevent hives from forming in the first place.
Chronic hives may be treated with antihistamines or a combination of medications. When antihistamines don’t provide relief, oral steroids may be prescribed. A biologic drug, omalizumab , is also approved to treat chronic hives in people at least 12 years old.