Avail Dermatology

Under Your Skin: How to Deal With Hives

Ever had an itch you just can’t seem to scratch?

Scientists have long studied itch and why it happens. While some itches are due to problems like dry skin or eczema rashes, in some cases these irritations could be a sign of an allergic reaction. One of these types of allergic reactions are hives.

Hives, or urticaria, are a collection of red, swollen “whelps” that can appear on the skin in response to an allergic reaction. The condition is actually quite common overall.  Almost 40.8 million Americans are stricken with hives every year and there’s a 10-20 percent chance that a person will experience hives at least once in their lifetime.

What are the Symptoms?

The most noticeable external symptom is the appearance of raised red swollen bumps that resemble mosquito bites on the skin. Itching, redness, and a stinging sensation are also common symptoms. Hives can last for hours, minutes, or days before they start to fade away.

What Causes Hives?

Hives are caused by an allergic reaction taking place on the skin. Some of the most common things that can trigger reactions are:

●      Allergic reactions to a known substance: common causes of this would include

○      Foods, such as eggs, shellfish, cheese, nuts, and fruits

○      Medications, such as Penicillin or codeine

○      Chemicals such as latex rubber

○      Insect bites and stings

●      Physical urticaria: in some cases, hives can be triggered by physical stimuli such as scratching or rubbing the skin, water exposure, heat or cold, or sun exposure

●      Infections such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, or the “common cold”

While these are all possible triggers that could cause hives, sometimes individuals get the rash for no apparent reason.  Studies show that up to 60 percent of people that deal with hives aren’t able to trace them back to a cause. This particularly true in cases where the hives persist for many weeks, or longer. These are called “chronic urticarial,” and in a significant percentage of these cases, no clear cause can be identified. This percentage may be 50% or higher.

How do I get treated?

One of the best ways to get treatment for hives is to seek out a dermatologist. While most of these doctors can diagnose the condition by examining the skin’s appearance, it’s sometimes difficult to find the exact cause, especially for individuals with chronic hives. A careful history and physical are the most important parts of the evaluation, looking for an underlying cause. To help get rid of the hives, dermatologists rely typically on antihistamines, which block the effects of histamine on the skin. Sometimes, stubborn cases require additional medications such as H-2 blockers or steroids.  The type of medication you receive will depend on the results your dermatologist pulls from the tests and the severity of your condition.

Are you struggling to deal with hives? Schedule an appointment with one of our elite dermatologists at Avail Dermatology by calling us at (770) 251-5111 today!