Urticaria is more commonly known as “hives”. Hives are raised, red- or skin-colored wheals (welts) on the skin with clearly defined edges. They are usually itchy and are more often than not an allergic reaction to medicine or food. Hives are very common and anyone can get them.
Hives can change shape or vanish and reappear in a matter of minutes or hours. The hives may get larger, multiply, and connect to form bigger areas of flat, raised skin. If you put pressure on the center of a hive, it will turn white – this is called blanching. Hives can be uncomfortable, but are usually not a life-threatening condition. However, if your hives are accompanied by difficulty breathing or swelling of your tongue or throat, you should call 911.
Angioedema is when welts or swelling occurs in the region of the face, particularly near the eyes and lips. Swelling from angioedema can also take place around your feet, hands, and throat (see Angioedema).
Acute urticaria is hives that last less than six weeks. Usually, the cause can be traced back to foods (nuts, milk, berries, eggs, tomatoes, fish, and chocolate), medications, infection, insect bites, or another illness. Sunlight, cold, and pressure can also cause hives. Hives caused by foods can materialize within minutes of ingestion or up to two hours later. Fresh foods cause hives more frequently than cooked. It is helpful for you our clinical staff to have a record of all food and drinks you consumed in 24 hours before you experienced hives.
Chronic urticaria lasts more than six weeks and it is very difficult to identify its cause.
Dermatographia is a form of hives that occurs after the skin has been stroked or scratched. The people who experience dermatographia are otherwise healthy individuals.
There aren’t any specific tests for hives, but a comprehensive medical history, a thorough examination and specialty testing are required for the appropriate diagnosis and management of symptoms. Hives can be prevented by avoiding irritants that have caused you to have hives in the past. You should also avoid taking hot showers or baths or wearing tight-fitting clothing after an episode of hives – they can cause your hives to return.
If you would like us to evaluate your urticaria, the AllergyCorp Group staff would like to help. We can also help find relief for your urticaria. Our Allergic Skin Disorder Clinic has access to the latest treatments and testing, and we offer convenient access to clinics in Eastern North Carolina.