Hives or Urticaria
refers to raised, itchy, and red or
white welts that appear on the skin’s
surface. In general, hives are an allergic
reaction to certain food items and medicines.
Chronic hives can endure for more than
six weeks. They have a tendency to keep
coming back periodically. Hives are
very common, and in most cases they
vanish within a few weeks. If you have
a serious case of hives, you might need
medicine or a shot to treat the hives.
In rare cases, allergic reactions can
cause a dangerous swelling in the airways
that inhibits breathing, and this is
a medical emergency.
Causes and Risk Factors
Hives are a common
allergic reaction. Upon exposure to
an allergen, histamine and other irritants
react with the blood in the bloodstream
to cause the tiny blood vessels known
as capillaries to rupture. This leads
to itching and swelling on the skin
surface. When these capillaries dilate
further and cause fluid to travel more
deeply into the skin tissue, a condition
known as angioedma occurs. Angioedma
typically causes swelling of the lips,
larynx (causing hoarseness or breathlessness),
or on the lining of the stomach and
intestines (causing abdominal pain).
Angioedema often occurs simultaneously
It is not
easy to determine the exact cause of
hives. They are believed to be the result
of an immune system (autoimmune) disorder
and other health problems such as thyroid
disease. In rare cases, insects, parasites,
and some food items have been determined
to be the cause. Furthermore, factors
such as excessive heat, non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory medications, or other
stimuli may aggravate chronic hives.
Some of the common allergens that cause
hives are certain food items such as
eggs, milk, nuts, and shellfish, certain
medicines, contact with pollen or fungal
spores, pet dander, insect bites, stress,
exposure to extreme climates (hot or
cold), excessive perspiration, infections
such as mononucleosis, leukemia, lupus,
and autoimmune diseases, substances
such as perfumes, preservatives, colorings,
nickel, or tar or contact with stinging
nettles, poison ivy, and jellyfish.
Hives can affect anyone, but those who
have had hives or angioedema in the
past are more likely to acquire it again.
People with a family history of hives
also have a higher risk of suffering
from this ailment. Stress can also aggravate
hives in some individuals.