Have you ever been stressed out enough that you start to notice itchy, red welts on your skin? If so, then you’ve experienced a case of hives. Also known urticaria, this innocuous condition causes skin to suddenly break out in red, swollen, itchy bumps. While stress can trigger hives outbreaks in some people so too can allergic reactions to certain foods, indoor/outdoor allergens and insect stings.
Hives breakouts can cause burning, stinging or itching and can appear just about anywhere on the body. The size of the welts can vary per person and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. There are four different kinds of hives: acute, chronic, physical and dermatographism.
Acute hives: Symptoms last less than six weeks and are usually brought on by allergies to certain foods, medications, insect bites or latex. Certain infections can also trigger an outbreak. Foods such as eggs, soy, wheat, dairy and shellfish are the biggest culprits, as are certain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen.
Chronic hives: These symptoms last over six weeks and finding the source of your hives trigger will be a bit more difficult. While sometimes the causes can be similar to that of acute hives, chronic infections, hormonal problems and autoimmunity can also be to blame.
Physical hives: This form of hives is caused by direct physical contact with the skin from certain factors like extreme temperatures (e.g. hot or cold), sun exposure, pressure, sweating and even exercise. The hives will tend to culminate only where direct contact was made.
Dermatographism: Referred to as “skin writing”, this bout of hives appears right after forcefully scratching the skin.
There is no one test to determine whether your outbreak is due to hives. We will go through your medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination of the welts. We may also ask you a series of questions regarding your symptoms. If your hives are due to an allergic reaction then we will also perform a skin test to determine which substance you are allergy to. Sometimes blood tests are also performed, particularly in the case of chronic hives.
Your treatment plan will depend on the type of allergen you are allergic to. Once we identify the trigger the best course of treatment is to avoid it completely. This can be difficult for some patients, which is why we usually prescribe antihistamines to help treat symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with chronic hives than we may prescribe other medications like corticosteroids in conjunction with antihistamines. If your hives outbreak is severe enough, an epinephrine injection may be required.
We will also give you tips for how to manage your hives and prevent outbreaks in the future.
If you want to find out more about treating hives, feel free to contact our office with any questions or concerns you might have!
For more information on Hives in the Bel Air, MD area call Advanced Allergy & Asthma Centers at 443-987-6998 today!
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