Hives -- what your doctor calls ''urticaria'' -- can be caused by allergic or other types of reactions. Hives appear like welts on your skin. They’re very itchy and can last just a few minutes or several days before going away. Occasionally, however, these annoying blotches can be a sign of more serious problems, especially when someone has symptoms like trouble breathing.
Another reaction that sometimes happens along with hives is called angioedema. It’s swelling that develops under the skin. With angioedema, you may have deep swelling around the eyes and lips, and sometimes the genitals, hands, and feet. It generally lasts longer than hives, but the swelling usually goes away in less than 24 hours.
Your home is your castle -- except when you’re allergic to it. A recent
nationwide survey found that over half of all Americans test positive for at
least some allergens, and many of these are indoor allergies such as dust,
mold, and pet dander.
How can you allergy-proof your home to make it a refuge, not a source of
sneezes? Take a tour of your house from room to room, find out where the
allergens are lurking, and get relief from indoor allergies.
In rare cases, the swelling from angioedema happens in the throat and causes trouble breathing. If that happens, you should call 911.
If you have hives along with fever, nausea, stomach cramps, shortness of breath, and a drop in blood pressure after a bee sting, insect bite, or drug injection, that can be a sign of a life-threatening allergy. Use an Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen (epinephrine shot) if you have one. Then call 911 or go to the hospital.
What Causes Hives?
Hives happen when some cells in the skin release a substance called histamine that triggers allergy symptoms.
Common triggers for hives include:
Foods like milk, fish, or nuts
Drugs like aspirin or penicillin
Food additives like flavorings and preservatives
Extreme cold or heat
Pressure on the skin
How Do You Treat Hives?
The best treatment is to figure out what’s causing them and stay away from it. Antihistamines can reduce your symptoms.
If over-the-counter antihistamines don’t help or your hives seem to be lingering, see your doctor. He or she may prescribe steroid pills or prescription antihistamines.