Hives is an allergic reaction that is characterized by raised, red welts on the surface of the skin. This write-up provides information on ways to treat a hives breakout.
Urticaria, also known as hives, is a skin disorder that is characterized by red, itchy welts on the skin. When our skin comes in contact with allergens, histamines are released from the cutaneous mast cells into the bloodstream in order to fight against the allergenic substance. As a result of the release of histamines, fluid leaks from the superficial blood vessels that are present under the surface of the skin. This gives rise to the formation of red, raised itchy skin bumps. The diameter of these skin rashes could range from a few millimeters to several inches. These could appear on any part of the body. Generally, these raised areas of skin have a red margin and a pale center. The size, shape, and location of these raised portions of skin generally changes rapidly. Old welts might fade, as the new ones appear in just a few hours.
Hives is most commonly caused due to allergies. The formation of these red welts on the skin is generally attributed to allergic reactions to certain foods, drugs, insect bites, and other environmental allergens. Certain foods such as eggs, soy, milk products, nuts, shellfish, berries, tomatoes, food additives, and wheat could act as a trigger. Sometimes, it could be caused by certain drugs. It has been seen that certain antibiotics, vaccines, sulfa drugs, anticonvulsant drugs, phenobarbital, and aspirin might trigger an allergic skin reaction in some people. Pet dander, pollen, chemicals, poison ivy, and some insect bites could also give rise to this condition. It could also be caused due to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Viral infections are one of the common causes of hives in children. Athlete’s foot, ringworm, chickenpox, jock itch, strep throat, and urinary tract infection are some of the infections that can lead to an outbreak. Exposure to harsh weather conditions, fluctuations in the body temperature, and stress could also trigger an allergic reaction.
If you notice dark red, raised itchy areas on your skin that seem to be appearing, disappearing and reappearing on different parts of your body, you must consult a dermatologist soon. Since these allergic rashes are mainly caused due to the release of histamines, the treatment generally involves the use of antihistamines.
Though certain antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine are available without prescription, it is recommended that you use the medicines prescribed by the dermatologist. Doctors generally prescribe medicines such as claritin, zyrtec, and allegra as they don’t induce drowsiness. In case, these antihistamines are unable to alleviate the symptoms, doctors may prescribe steroids such as prednisone and medrol.
Immediate medical attention is required in case a person gets affected by an anaphylactic shock. The symptoms of an anaphylactic shock include shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling on the face or tongue, tightness of throat, fainting, etc. This condition can be life-threatening in the absence of prompt medical treatment. Epinephrine is administered for treating this condition. People affected by allergies should keep an emergency kit containing epinephrine.
Application of menthol cream, hydrocortisone cream, or calamine lotion can also help provide allergy relief. Hot showers must be completely avoided. The affected individual should refrain from wearing tight-fitting clothes. Over-the-counter antihistamines such as benadryl can be given. You can also wrap some ice cubes in a clean towel and apply it gently on the welts. Another natural remedy that you can follow is to soak your body in a tub filled with a solution made from water and oatmeal. It might ease the discomfort to some extent. Drinking green tea might also prove beneficial, as it is a natural antihistamine. Avoidance of the substances that trigger an allergic reaction is the best way to prevent this condition.
Now that you have a basic idea on the causes, symptoms and treatment of hives, make sure that you take all preventive measures to avoid an outbreak. Those who often such allergic reactions must consult a dermatologist soon.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.