What are hives?
Red/salmon colored, itchy, raised bumps on the skin that come and go over a period of minutes to hours. They will often appear in one area and, over a period of hours, disappear and move to another area. They can occur in rare, single instances, in which case usually there is an obvious or self-limited trigger. Or they can become chronic, reoccurring, in which case often there is no known trigger.
What hives are not:
They are not red bumps that persist for days and do not change form. They are not a flat, non-raised rash that does not itch.
Why am I getting hives?
-Virus infection (acutely)
-Allergic reactions to a food or medication (acutely)
-Cold or heat induced
-Friction induced/tight clothing
-Stress/lack of sleep
How can I treat my hives?
-Avoid the common triggers
-Take a daily antihistamine like Benadryl, Allegra, Zyrtec, or Claritin
-Also take a daily antacid with antihistamine properties like Pepcid or Zantac
-Get a script from your doctor for Singular, a prescription medication that blocks the allergy pathway through a different mechanism than the over-the-counter antihistamines.
If I have chronic hives, should I be tested for allergies?
You should have blood work, checking your blood counts, inflammation markers and thyroid function tests, since rarely immune system dysfunction in these areas of the body can cause chronic hives. Research has shown, though, that it is very rare for chronic hives to be caused by an allergy. It is not often that skin tests reveal helpful information for people with chronic hives. However, if you are wondering if an allergy is triggering your hives you can come in to be tested (1).
- Saini, S. Chronic urticaria: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, pathogenesis, and natural history. UpToDate. uptodate.com. Accessed 3/26/18.
David Beckstead, MD
Canyon View Family Medicine