Hives is medically known as Urticaria. This condition is characterized by red, itchy bumps with a blanched center and is frequently known to be an allergic response. The bumps appear in different shapes and sizes anywhere in the body. It is estimated that 20% of the world population will get hives at one point in their lives. This condition is more common to women than men.
Hives can rapidly change in size and they tend to move around. Hives can disappear in one place then reappear again in another part of the body. An individual hive usually lasts no more than 24 hours. Very few skin diseases develop and resolve rapidly. If an individual starts showing hives and decides to go to the doctor, he or she may not manifest hives at the time of the visit. The doctor will need to ask the history of the symptoms in order to diagnose the disease. Taking a photograph of one’s hives is really helpful in diagnosing.
The classification of hives or Urticaria is divided into two types. These types are the acute Urticaria and chronic Urticaria.
• Acute Urticaria is a result of an allergic reaction. An individual may or may not know the source of the reaction. Symptoms usually show up a few minutes after contact with allergic triggers and can last several hours to several weeks. Food allergy is the most common cause of acute Urticaria.
• Chronic Urticaria have an unknown cause most of the cases. A person is diagnosed to have chronic hives when symptoms persist 6 weeks or more. Severe cases of Urticaria may persist up to 20 years. In a survey conducted, 50% of most chronic sufferers experienced hives a year or more. On the other hand, 20% of chronic sufferers have hives that persist 20 years or more. Chronic Urticaria is closely related to autoimmune cause accounting for 30 to 40% of patients experiencing this type of hives.
• Angioedema is a condition related to hives. Although they are mistaken by some people to be the same thing, angioedema and hives are different. The swelling in angioedema occurs in the lower layer of the dermis and subcutis. This condition is worse than hives. It can happen in the throat, around the mouth and other location. Angioedema and hives can occur together because of allergic response. Angioedema in the throat can be fatal.
Hives happen when exposed to allergic and non allergic triggers. Triggers can be food, medications, physical agents, plants and many others. The body responds by releasing inflammatory mediators such as histamine from mast cells. This release will cause fluid leakage from superficial blood vessels forming the wheal. The wheal is the red, blanch center bumps of hives.
Acute hives can be treated with anti-histamine medications such as diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine and cetirizine. For severe breakouts, oral corticosteroids such as prednisone are prescribed.
Chronic hives, on the other hand, is difficult to treat. While anti histamines and corticosteroids are prescribed, most patients tend to be resistant to the medications. Some also have slow response to medications making hives more severe than it should be before medication sets in. It can be difficult to find the right medication with chronic hives.
Hives can be prevented by avoiding known triggers to cause allergic reactions. If an individual is allergic to a certain kind of food, he or she has to make sure that the dish served does not contain that ingredient.