Hives (Urticaria)

Aurticaria3

 DermNetNZ.org

About Hives

Urticaria (hives) is a common condition that may affect up to 15-20% of the population. It is typified by patches of itchy rash of different shapes and sizes, which may range from skin colour, pink or red. It is usually caused by the release of a chemical in your skin called histamine. This can be triggered by a common cold, heat, exercise, food and certain medications. One of the important factors of Acute Urticaria is that it subsides within 24 hours, but may recur over the next few days.

Sometimes, urticaria may be associated with swelling (Angio-oedema) of your eyelids, tongue, lips, throat or genitals. This can be quite alarming but rarely life threatening. In addition, urticaria that lasts for more than 6 weeks is by definition known as Chronic Urticaria. This condition can cause much distress, discomfort; poor sleep, and affect your overall quality of life.

Treatment of Hives

Fortunately, most cases of acute urticaria are self-limiting, and do not require further investigations. In cases of urticaria associated with swelling, or chronic urticaria, investigations may be necessary to determine any underlying medical condition that could be responsible for the skin manifestations.

Anti-histamine medications that can block the action of histamine are effective at reducing the symptoms. There are many types antihistamines available, but the medicines prescribed must be tailored to your skin response. Calamine lotion is often prescribed to soothe the skin.

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