Hives 101: What Do You Need To Know?

Hives. The word alone conjures up images of a red, splotchy rash that itches terribly. Beyond popular perception, however, most of us don’t know a whole lot about this common condition.

What causes hives? Why do they last for hours on certain people, but disappear quickly on others? Are there any health concerns associated with an outbreak?

These are all good questions–and we’re happy to provide you with some answers.

Keep reading to learn a few important facts about hives.

What Are Hives?


Hives–also known as urticaria– are raised, splotchy welts that itch, burn or sting. Urticaria can occur as single welts or as several welts in patches known as plaques.

Hives can cause serious discomfort. They can also compromise an individual’s ability to work, sleep, or perform everyday activities.

What Causes Hives?

Urticaria is most commonly caused by allergic reaction. Food allergies, for instance, often lead to hives and other, more dangerous allergic responses.

Heat–and thus sweating–is another common trigger of urticaria. Heat-related hives (known as cholinergic urticaria) are caused by the stimulation of nerve fibers in your sweat glands. So anything that makes you sweat (sunlight, exercise, nerves, stress) can trigger an outbreak.

Other common causes of urticaria include:

  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Viral Infections
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Certain Medications
  • Tight or Itchy Clothing

If you experience hives outbreaks, it’s important to pay attention to when your symptoms arise. Visit an allergy specialist to be tested for food allergies or other stimuli that may be contributing to your chronic or severe hives outbreaks.

When Are Hives Serious?

You should seek medical treatment for a case of hives that lasts longer than two days or is intensely itchy, stinging or burning.

For hives that are accompanied by throat swelling or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

How Are Hives Treated?

Many urticaria sufferers use antihistamines to treat their symptoms during an outbreak. However, these medications do nothing to treat the condition itself.

An allergist can help you locate your personal triggers and prescribe medications to treat your hives and prevent future outbreaks.

Allergy and Asthma Center offers effective allergy testing and treatment in multiple locations in the San Jose area and beyond. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about our treatment options.

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