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What are Hives?

Hives are a skin eruption identified by red, itchy welts. They are a common occurrence.  Medically, hives are referred to as urticaria.
Hives appear in clusters. They are caused by fluid leaks from small blood vessels in the skin. This fluid collects under the skin and form circular red blotches. As a result of the swelling, hives tend to be very itchy; hives itching can vary from mild to painful depending on the skin sensitivity and severity of outbreak.

Symptoms of Hives:

The common symptoms of hives are the red welts and flares that erupt on the skin. They are usually characterized by itching and shifting welts. The size of the welts vary from tiny bumps to a larger hive formed by merging of welts. In severe cases, it may also result in facial swelling and difficulty in breathing and swallowing.

Hives Causes:

They are usually triggered by allergic reactions, which release inflammatory chemicals like histamines into the system causing skin to burst into hives. Common allergens include foods like nuts, shellfish, etc.; aggressive medicines like antibiotics; pollen, etc.

Usually hives fade away within a few weeks of the rash appearing, however, if they last longer than six weeks, the condition is known as chronic hives or chronic urticaria. Chronic hives are rarely the result of an allergy. They may be caused as a reaction to extreme temperatures, friction, stress, or as a result of viral infection.  
While most hive outbreaks don’t cause much damage, sometimes the reaction can be more severe, resulting in swelling of airways; it is always best to consult a doctor if the symptoms persist.

Treatment for Hives

The only successful treatment plan for hives is to zero in on the allergens that set off a reaction. For this you need to study your lifestyle, figure out what it is you are allergic to and stay away from the same.

In case of a flare up, consult your doctor. Depending on your condition he may prescribe medication like antihistamines. For home remedies use anti-itch lotions and cold compresses on your skin. These will stop the burning and make it easier for you to go about your routine. A cold compress is the most effective as it shrinks blood vessels and brings down the amount of histamine released in the body. This in turn controls the outburst of hives.

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