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Hives - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Hives are also known as Urticaria in medical terminology. It is characterized by an outbreak of pale red bumps and swollen wheals (plaques) on the skin. It is the body’s reaction against certain allergies for unknown reason.

Hives on the skin usually cause stinging or burning sensation. They can appear on any part of the body such as the ears, throat, tongue, lips and face. It usually varies in size from a dinner plate to a pencil eraser, sometimes they also join together to form plaques (larger area of hives). Angioedema is a form of hives which is characterized by swelling beneath the skin rather than the surface. Signs of angioedema include swelling around the lips, eyes, feet, hands and genitals. The swelling stays for a maximum of 24 hours after which it disappears.

Hives and angioedema on its own is not fatal, but it can block the airway passage of the lungs, tongue and throat making it difficult to breathe. This can be life threatening in some cases.

What causes hives?

  • Hives are generally caused due to allergic reactions resulting from sunlight exposure, insect stings, chemicals found in certain foods or medications which release a chemical called hisamine.
  • Acute urticaria (hives which last for more than six weeks) are caused due to the consumption of certain foods, infections, medications and insect bites.
  • The most common food products that cause hives are milk, berries, eggs, tomatoes, fish, chocolates and nuts. Some food additives also contribute in causing hives.
  • Angioedema and chronic urticaria are caused due to cancer, infection, hepatitis and thyroid diseases.
  • Physical urticaria is caused due to exercise, sweating, pressure, vibration, sun exposure, heat and cold.
  • > Drugs such as codeine, blood pressure drugs, ibuprofen and NSAIDs (Non anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause hives
  • Dermatoraphism is a form of hives which occurs by scratching or stroking the skin.


Hives are diagnosed by performing routine blood tests and skin tests. This is usually performed under the supervision of a certified gynecologist.


Angioedema and hives are usually treated with the help of antistamines, oral corticosteroids, biologic drugs, omalizumab (Xolair), epinephrine injections and cortisone medications. It is vital to seek medical help if you experience wheezing, dizziness, difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest and swelling in the face, lips and tongue.

Applying wet clothes or cool compresses on the affected areas, working or sleeping in a cool room, wearing loose fitting clothes can provide comfort and reduce the symptoms of hives.

Treatable by medical professional Usually self diagnosable Lab test sometimes required Short-term: resolves within days to weeks Non communicable
Extremely itchy bumps Skin colored or red bumps Blanching (while pressing the hives, a red hive becomes white)

Popular Health Tips

Hives - 8 Common Things That Can Trigger It!

Dr. Ashutosh Mehta 91% (109 ratings)
Dermatologist, Nagpur
Hives - 8 Common Things That Can Trigger It!
Hives is a very common condition and about 20% of the world has got it at some point in their lives. There are many causes to it ranging from blood transfusions to certain allergic reactions to food. It starts off as an itchy patch of skin but slowly swells and turns into red welts. There are certain factors which makes the itching worse including stress, alcohol and scratching the area of skin which was itchy in the first place. Here are all the causes and symptoms of hives. Causes 1. Food Allergic reactions to foods such as nuts, eggs and shellfish are a common cause of hives. 2. Medications Certain medications also have a side effect of causing hives. Penicillin andsulfa are two of the antibiotics which can cause hives. Ibuprofen and Aspirin are also two other medications which are commonly known to cause hives. 3. Infections Both bacterial and viral infections can lead to hives. Strep throat, urinary tract infections, common cold and hepatitis are some of many bacterial and viral infections which may cause hives. 4. Stimuli Certain factors such as temperature, pressure, sun exposure and other physical stimuli may cause hives as well. 5. Plants and animals Dander in animals are the flakes of skin in their fur. Moreover, coming into contact with certain poisonous plants may cause hives. 6. Insects When insects sting or bite you, you may get hives. 7. Latex Latex is a type of rubber used in many types of clothing. It has been said that wearing clothing made out of latex can cause hives. 8. Pollen Pollen is a light powdery substance produced by plants such as oak trees. It travels through the air and may cause hives if it comes into contact with your skin. Symptoms 1. Bumps Itchy red bumps appear on the skin when you have hives. Sometimes, the bumps can be skin-colored as well. 2. Blanching When the bumps turn white after you press them, it is known as blanching. Blanching is the only clear symptom of hives.
2486 people found this helpful

When Penis Bumps Are Due to Hives!

Dr. Vinod Raina 95% (4027 ratings)
MD - General Medicine
Sexologist, Delhi
When Penis Bumps Are Due to Hives!
One of the primary reasons a man should be concerned about good penis health is that he wants his equipment to make a good impression when it is unveiled for the gaze (and appreciation) of a partner, especially a new one. When a man has a healthy penis, it presents a more imposing and impressive picture, pleasing the partner and giving the possessor of that penis extra confidence and pride. But when a swath of penis bumps are present, it can negatively impact that first impression. This is especially the case when the penis bumps are due to hives, which can be present in such quantity as to be impossible to miss - and impossible for a partner to wonder about what those hives say about a man's sexual health. Learning about hives Most people have heard of hives, but not everyone knows exactly what they are. Basically, hives are a dermatological issue. They are red welts that appear on the skin, typically in groups. They can vary in size from a pinpoint to several inches across. When they appear in groups, they often overlap so that it may seem as if they are forming one big welt. Medically termed "urticarial," hives typically go away within about 24 hours - but they can often occur in waves, so that as some are going away, new ones are developing to take their place. Hopefully, a case of hives will be acute, meaning that it lasts less than six weeks (often much, much less). If it lasts longer than six weeks, it is considered chronic. Hives themselves are not typically dangerous, despite their very unattractive and sometimes alarming appearance. However, if they occur underneath the skin (rather than just on the surface), they become angiodemas, and they can be of greater concern. Also, hives are sometimes associated with other conditions of significant concern: when they appear on or near the penis, they sometimes indicate the presence of other issues, such as scabies or an STI. And if hives appear anywhere on the body and are accompanied by difficulty breathing or swallowing, medical attention is required. Causes What causes hives, either in the form of penis bumps or elsewhere on the body? Most often they are an allergic reaction of some sort, although narrowing down and identifying the specific "trigger" that causes the reaction can be challenging. However, latex is sometimes the cause of an allergic reaction which presents via hives - so if a man comes down with hives soon after using a latex condom, he may wish to see if that could be the cause of the problem. Other common causes of hives are dietary related (especially certain fruits), as well as insect bites, pollen, pets, and some chemicals and medicines. Treatment Acute hives often resolve with no treatment. Antihistamines are frequently used to help resolve the itching that accompanies hives. Corticosteroids and antibiotics are also often prescribed as well. Treating the itchiness of penis bumps caused by hives may require extra help. Regular application of a top drawer penis health cr me (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin) may be helpful in this area. Itching often causes dryness and flaking, so remoisturizing the delicate penis skin can be a boon. Choose a cr me that contains both a high-end emollient (such as Shea butter) and a potent hydrator (such as vitamin E). It also helps if the cr me contains vitamin C, which is a key component in collagen production and helps restore tone and elasticity to damaged penis skin. Revitalizing penis skin which has been affected by a bad case of hives will help bring back its former healthy appearance.
2 people found this helpful

Giant Hives: What Are The Causes Behind?

Dr. Anshu Aggarwal 86% (20 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy, Cosmetologist
Dermatologist, Chandigarh
Giant Hives: What Are The Causes Behind?
Allergic reactions are the body s way of responding to foreign substances. The body recognizes these substances (be it food, pollens, insect bites, etc.) as antigens and produces antibodies. These antibodies can cause various reactions depending on the severity of the allergen, be it skin rash, hives, or angioedema. In severe cases, there could be swelling of the tongue and the respiratory tract, leading to choking of the airways. Literally, angioedema means swelling of the blood vessels. These are located in the underlying layers of the skin and their swelling can lead to formation of giant hives, which can be extremely itchy, reddish, and oval or circular in shape. The affected area I usually warm and painful to touch. Causes Angioedema is caused due to the following: Food allergies including eggs, peanuts, shellfish, milk, tree nuts, chocolates, etc. Insect bites or stings Pollen, latex, animal dander, poison ivy, and other common allergens Medications like aspirin, penicillin, ibuprofen, and some blood pressure medicines In response to blood transfusions Auto-immune disorders like lupus Conditions like leukemia and thyroid disorders Infections like hepatitis, cytomegalovirus infections, Epstein-Barr infections, etc. Weather conditions like extremes of cold, heat, or pressure Extreme emotional stress Genetic angioedema, passed on from parents to children, which could last forever While hives usually develop without any warning, the following condition puts a person at risk of developing angioedema. Predisposition to allergic reactions (highly active immune system) Previous history of allergies Genetic history of allergies or angioedema Most angioedema cases are limited to the skin and hives, but there could be severe cases leading to respiratory distress. Diagnosis If it is the first instance of hives, the doctor would ask detailed questions about similar occurrence in the past. They would also check if there are similar hives on other parts of the body like the back, which you may have missed. If required, this examination is followed by allergy testing and blood testing. The allergy testing will help identify if you are allergic to some of the common things which cause allergy. The blood test will look for your eosinophil count, which is usually high in people prone to allergies. C1 esterase inhibitor test and complement particles also can be checked, if there is suspicion of genetic angioedema. Treatment This would depend on the severity of symptoms In case of angioedema, admission in hospital may be needed. Tracheostomy may also become essential to save patients life. Vigorous therapy with intravenous medications like steroid, antihistamines and others may be needed. Under medical treatment, antihistamines like cetirizine and loratadine are prescribed. However, severe cases may require steroids like prednisolone. Prevention Once you know what caused it, avoid exposure to these substances and further attacks can be prevented.
2602 people found this helpful

Types and Causes of Urticaria

Dr. Suruchi Puri 90% (593 ratings)
MBBS, MD (Skin & V.D. MAMC) - Dermatology
Dermatologist, Delhi
Types and Causes of Urticaria
Hives, also called urticaria are swollen welts or bumps that appear on your skin suddenly. They itch, burn and sting and can happen anywhere on your body. You can get them on your face, lips, tongue, ears or chest. And in size, they can be as small as an eraser to as large as a plate. They also form plaques and can last for hours or up to several days. Types Acute urticaria - These type of hives last less than six weeks. The most common causes are allergies due to certain foods and medications, or infections. These hives can also happen due to diseases or insect bites. Chronic urticaria - Hives lasting more than six weeks come under this category. What causes them is usually more difficult to identify than what causes acute urticaria. In some cases, chronic hives are caused due to thyroid disease, hepatitis or even cancer. This type can affect your internal organs like lungs, muscles, and the gut. Thus, symptoms include muscle soreness, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Physical urticaria - These types are caused due to direct physical stimulation of the skin due to cold, heat, sun exposure, vibration, pressure, sweating, and exercise. What causes hives? Hives happen mostly due to allergies. Some of the common hive triggers are- Certain foods, especially peanuts, eggs, nuts and shellfish- Fresh foods are more likely to cause hives as compared to cooked foods. Certain food additives and preservatives can also play culprits. Medicines like penicillin and sulfa- based antibiotics, aspirin and ibuprofen which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, high blood pressure drugs like ACE inhibitors, and painkillers such as codeine can also trigger hives. Insect bites Latex Transfusion of blood Bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections and infected throat Viral infections- common cold and hepatitis Pollen grains Plants like poison oak and poison ivy Sunlight Cold weather Pet dander
4362 people found this helpful

Urticaria (Hives) - The Best Way It Can Be Treated!

Dr. P.C. Kathuria 85% (10 ratings)
MD, DNB, Diploma in Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases (DTCD), MBBS
Pulmonologist, Delhi
Urticaria (Hives) - The Best Way It Can Be Treated!
One of the most important functions of the skin is protection. During this process, it comes in contact with various substances including chemicals, pollen, dust, and other pollutants. While it does protect the overall body from all these, there is some damage that is inevitably done to the skin through these exposures. Different skin and different bodies react differently to these, and while some may have no reaction, others develop allergies. This is also defined by how strong the person s immunity is. Hives is one of the most common skin allergy responses. While it is not easy to pinpoint what causes the allergy or the hives, the causative agent can be nailed by observing patterns and excluding out some of the causative agents. There are a set of regular household and surrounding items that could lead to urticaria, and working around these can help pin down the source. Origin: When the body encounters a foreign body, it produces what are known as histamines. When they are produced, the plasma in the cell leaks out, producing a red and swollen appearance. Hives are red, itchy, raised patches on the skin. They are seen in about 20% of the population. Hives are usually allergic in nature, implying that they occur when there is a foreign substance that induces an allergic reaction. Hives can appear either due to coming in touch with some substance or due to eating some allergy-inducing substance. Hives can be acute or chronic. Acute is when the hives appear in response to an allergic reaction. These usually disappear in a matter of days to a week at the maximum. In some people, they could be chronic and can last for months together. Treatment: Given that they are allergic in nature, managing hives includes a combination of immediate treatment as well as preventive measures. While most are topically managed, others might require systemic intervention also. Once the hives have developed, the following can help in the relief of symptoms and prevent from spreading further. The redness and swelling will take some time to disappear. Avoid tight-fitting clothes Use cool compresses on the hives Avoid warm or hot shower Stay in a cooler room Avoid itching the hives Use topical moisturizer to prevent dryness Use topical steroid cream to manage the inflammation Take a systemic antihistamine or an injection of epinephrine if required. While these help in managing the hives which have occurred, preventing is via the following. Avoid the source once identified If the source is not yet known, record when the hives are occurring Manage stress and see hives appear much less Increase moisturizer use Keep an antihistamine handy so you can take it immediately in case of suspected hives.
2606 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

I am suffering from allergy skin problem approx 2 months my problem is pitti (hives) please suggest me beat treatment for that.

Dr. Sandesh Gupta 89% (3826 ratings)
MBBS, Diploma in Venerology & Dermatology (DVD)
Dermatologist, Delhi
The first step in managing hives is to find out the cause. You can then try to avoid that trigger. A mild case often disappears on its own after a few hours. If it lasts longer, you can try an over-the-counter antihistamine. See a doctor if your outbreak doesn't disappear in a few days, though. And get medical help right away if you notice symptoms of angioedema (such as swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat) or a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you often get hives, or if your outbreaks affect you a lot, your doctor will probably prescribe antihistamines. Treatment with corticosteroids, which you take by mouth, will sometimes reduce swelling when antihistamines don't work.
2 people found this helpful

I'm suffering from heavy acidity issue from last 2 years, due to acidity I'm suffering from urticaria/allergy/skin rash issue to all body from hair to toe. So when I took daily cetrizine tablet then I'm feeling good. Please suggest me what to do.

Dr. Brahma Prakash 90% (681 ratings)
DNB(Respiratory Diseases), MBBS
Pulmonologist, Jabalpur
you might be having allergy to some food items that may be giving rise to acidity as well as rashes. try to identify them and then get it confirmed by allergy testing, meanwhile avoid taking spicy and oily diet, avoid excessive caffeine containing beverages such as coffee and tea, and tobacco and alcohol.
1 person found this helpful

I am suffering from a diseases called urticaria for last 1 yr. Is there any allopathy medicine to get complete relief.

Dr. Poojanpreet Kaur 90% (50 ratings)
Pediatrician, Ghaziabad
Urticaria also known commonly as hives can be due to various reasons. Treatment may not be needed if the hives are mild. They may disappear on their own. To reduce itching and swelling: Do not take hot baths or showers. Do not wear tight-fitting clothing, which can irritate the area. Your provider may suggest that you take an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Follow your provider's instructions or the package instructions about how to take the medicine. If your reaction is severe, especially if the swelling involves your throat, you may need an emergency shot of epinephrine (adrenaline) or steroids. Hives in the throat can block your airway, making it difficult to breathe. Hives may be uncomfortable, but they are usually harmless and disappear on their own. In most cases, the exact cause of hives cannot be identified.
1 person found this helpful

I am 58 female suffering from urticaria for past 3 month's. When I take anti allergy it subsides but it comes up with red big irritating patches. Had blood test all normal Pl suggest some treatment to get rid of this.

Dr. Navneet Gupta 88% (157 ratings)
MD - Consultant Physician
General Physician, Vapi
It can be due to paracytic infection also so please take deworming agents and do an allergic test for drugs, pollen and food product and I hope you will get cause of your allergy till that time for symptomatic relief take your old prescription.
1 person found this helpful

Health Quizzes

Treating Skin Allergies

MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy
Dermatologist, Visakhapatnam
Hives is not a type of treatable skin allergy. True or False?
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