From Sunlight To Bug Bites What Are The Top Causes Of Hives In Summer
Hives are itchy pink welts that could appear anywhere on the skin. Hives vary in size, and they sometimes merge together to cover large patches of your skin. Individual hives usually go away in less than 24 hours, but new ones can appear. So, you might battle a case of hives for up to six weeks, according to the American Academy of Dermatology .
They tend to come on suddenly and they are incredibly itchy. People are miserable with them. They might only last a few hours then theyre gone. Or they might come back later in a different spot, said Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hives
The hallmark red raised welts are the main sign of hives. The welts can:
- have a pale center
- change shape and location in a matter of hours
- be tiny or as big as a dinner plate
- itch, sting, or cause a burning sensation
Someone who also has angioedema might have puffiness, blotchy redness, swelling, or large bumps around the eyes, lips, hands, feet, genitals, or throat. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, or belly pain.
Rarely, a person with hives and angioedema can also get anaphylactic shock. Signs of anaphylactic shock include breathing trouble, a drop in blood pressure, dizziness, or a loss of consciousness .
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Hives are something that by definition are going to be transient. The lesions come and go within 24 hours. If you have something hanging around for longer than that, its not a hive, said Dr. Jenny Murase, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Its rare, but possible, that your hives could cause swelling of your lips or tongue or itching in your mouth or throat. If you notice those symptoms, go to the emergency room, Piliang said. Youll need medical care to make sure your airway doesnt close from the swelling.
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Favorite Resource To Find A Dermatologist
Your primary care doctor may recommend that you visit a dermatologist instead of an allergist, depending on your symptoms and suspected triggers. If you dont currently have a dermatologist, visit this site from the American Academy of Dermatology. The Find a Dermatologist tool allows you to search by location or a specific doctors name. The results will show dermatologists that meet your search criteria. Click on the name to view more about the doctor, such as where theyre located, what they specialize in, and the qualifications they have.
Are There Conditions Or Other Causes That Look Like Hives
There are other rashes that may look like hives, but the fact that they remain stable and do not resolve within 24 hours is helpful in distinguishing them from hives. Such rashes may need to have a small specimen of skin removed and examined under the microscope to accurately determine the nature of the skin disease.
When to visit the doctor
- If hives are making it difficult to sleep, then it may be necessary to see a physician. This would be especially important if you are taking nonprescription antihistamines. If your hives last longer than two months, it is also likely you will benefit from visiting a physician.
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What Do Stress Hives Look Like Signs & Symptoms
Most People With Hives Do Not Need Tests
Tests are sometimes done when hives go on for long periods, or when unusual symptoms are occurring around the same time. This is to exclude other diseases, which may appear as hives first, and other conditions later. If hives are associated with high fever, bruising, bleeding into the skin, purple lumps that last for several days, or sore joints, a doctors appointment should be arranged promptly.
Allergy testing is performed when the history suggests an allergic cause.
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A Pharmacist Can Help With Hives
Your pharmacist can give you advice about antihistamine tablets to bring down your hives rash.
Tell your pharmacist if you have a long-term condition you might not be able to take antihistamines.
They also may not be suitable for young children under 2. Ask your pharmacist for advice before giving your child any antihistamines.
What Is The Prognosis For People With Hives
For most people, hives dont cause serious problems. Children often outgrow allergies that cause hives.
For some people, allergic reactions like angioedema can cause anaphylaxis severe swelling of the airways and lungs. If you have this life-threatening condition, you should carry and know when and how to use injectable epinephrine .
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Types Of Physical Urticaria
- Dermographism triggered by skin friction such as rubbing, scratching, or pressure. This is the most common form of CIndU.
- Delayed-pressure urticaria triggered by sustained pressure to the skin. Symptoms appear 4-6 hours after contact.
- Exercise-induced urticaria triggered by exercise.
- Cold urticaria triggered by skin exposure to cold or cold water. Hives are usually limited to exposed skin.
- Heat urticaria triggered by exposure to heat.
- Solar urticaria triggered by sun exposure to UV rays.
- Vibratory urticaria triggered by exposure to vibration.
Does Covid Cause Hives In Adults
Yes. COVID-19 is associated with a rash in many people diagnosed with the virus. The hives form in different patterns, including patches, itchy bumps, and blisters that look like chicken pox. Most people who have the rash find it lasts about eight days. COVID-related hives often itch, and some may require medical treatment.
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The Best Ways To Treat Bug Bites Sunburns And Heat Strokes
For most people who have hives, the episode will end, and their skin will be better within a few days. If thats not the case, you should see your dermatologist, she said.
Hives are common and anyone can get them. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology , 20 to 30 percent of people will get hives at least once in their lives.
What Causes Urticaria
Urticaria occurs when a trigger causes high levels of histamine and other chemical messengers to be released in the skin. These substances cause the blood vessels in the affected area of skin to open up and become leaky. This extra fluid in the tissues causes swelling and itchiness.
Histamine is released for many reasons, including:
- an allergic reaction like a food allergy or a reaction to an insect bite or sting
- cold or heat exposure
- certain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics
However, in many cases of urticaria, no obvious cause can be found.
Some cases of long-term urticaria may be caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue. However, this is difficult to diagnose and the treatment options are the same.
Certain triggers may also make the symptoms worse. These include:
Read more about the causes of urticaria.
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How To Diagnose Hives
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and look at your skin to confirm that your skin rash is really hives. Your doctor may also want to run some tests, such as a blood test or skin prick test. These will help identify if there is an underlying problem.
Doctors will ask a lot of questions to explore possible triggers and determine the exact cause of hives. Have you eaten a new food? Started a new medication? Has there been a recent infection? Is there anything upsetting your body system that suggests an autoimmune disease? The history of symptoms is very important in figuring out what is causing hives.
If there is no obvious trigger or the trigger is unknown, this is called idiopathic urticaria.
Other Ways To Get Relief From Hives
No matter the treatment course, avoid the urge to scratch the hives. You risk breaking the skin and getting an infection, Friedman says.
One of the best ways to relieve an itch is by using cold therapy . Use ice packs, a cool cloth, or a frozen bag of veggies like peas, or take a cool shower. Even better, stick a moisturizer in the fridge to cool it down, which will have a double-whammy effect against that itch, Rossi says.
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Finding Relief: Treatment Options
The first step in getting treatment is to figure out if you actually have hives. In most cases, your doctor will be able to determine if you have hives from a physical exam. Your skin will show signs of the welts that are associated with hives. Your doctor may also perform blood tests or skin tests to determine what may have caused your hives especially if they were the result of an allergic reaction.
You may not need prescription treatment if youre experiencing a mild case of hives not related to allergies or other health conditions. In these circumstances, your doctor might suggest that you seek temporary relief by:
- taking antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine or cetirizine
- avoiding irritating the area
- avoiding hot water, which may aggravate the hives
- taking a cool or lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal or baking soda
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that needs to be treated immediately by a physician.
Hives On Black Skin Faqs
- What do hives look like? Hives on black skin often look like inflamed or raised spots, but they wont always look red. Theyll typically match the color of the surrounding skin.
- What causes hives? Like any skin tone, hives on black skin are typically caused by the environment or an allergy. Sometimes the cause is unknown.
- How can you treat hives? Your doctor may suggest an OTC antihistamine or prescribe you a stronger antihistamine or medication. Home remedies like a cold compress or cool bath might also help symptoms.
Heres what to know about identifying and getting medical attention for hives on darker skin tones.
Symptoms of hives across all skin tones include:
- a round, oval, or squiggly shape
- itchiness and tenderness
- occurrence in isolated groups or over large areas
But hives on dark skin dont typically appear red or pink, instead theyre often closer in color to the surrounding skin. These hives will appear slightly lighter or darker, but the difference isnt as stark as it is on white skin. Hives on black skin will still look irritated and inflamed, but their pigment can vary widely.
Heres a closer look:
Unfortunately, many medical students arent always taught how to diagnose skin conditions on Black patients. As a result, hives and other skin conditions on patients with black skin are often misdiagnosed by medical professionals.
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Favorite Online Community For Support
This site brings together people with chronic spontaneous urticaria, which is a term that describes chronic hives with no explanation for whats causing them. The site has information about the condition, videos from people sharing their experience with hives, and The Hive, which allows people to send virtual support for people battling the condition.
How Are They Diagnosed
Your doctor can diagnose hives by looking at the skin, asking questions, and doing a physical exam. Because the hives can fade by the time you see your doctor, it may help to take a picture of them. Blood tests usually are not needed unless the hives have been coming back regularly for more than six weeks. Other testing may be done if your doctor thinks a specific cause is likely.
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What Do Hives Look Like On The Skin
These itchy welts can appear on the skin in many ways, as the following pictures of hives show.
Hives develop in batches
Hives appear suddenly, causing a rash of smooth, raised welts that tend to differ in size and shape. The welts can be small, large, or somewhere in between. Some hives are as big as a hand.
The color of hives varies with skin color
If you have brown or black skin, hives are often the same color as your skin, or slightly darker or lighter than your natural skin color. People who have a light or medium complexion see red or pink hives.
Individual hives come and go quickly, usually within 24 hours
As some hives disappear, new hives may form. Most people have a case of hives for a few days to a few weeks. If new hives continue to appear for more than 6 weeks, you have a condition called chronic hives.
Skin itches, burns, or stings and feels warm to the touch
Hives can itch, sometimes intensely. Some people say that hives burn or sting rather than itch. Because the skin is inflamed, hives often feel warm to the touch.
Hives can cover large areas of skin
Some people get hives in a few places. Its also possible for hives to cover a large portion of the body, which can feel uncomfortable because hives tend to itch.
A telltale sign of hives is blanching
This means that if you have a light or medium skin color, pressing on a hive will cause the red or pink color to disappear while youre pressing on it.
Hives usually appear as distinct raised spots or patches
When To See A Doctor If You Suspect Hives
Acute hives can be straightforward and may not require medical attention. But sometimes hives do warrant a visit to the doctor or the emergency room in severe cases. Its a good idea to visit your primary care doctor if you notice the hives continuing to appear over the course of several days or if you experience severe symptoms and discomfort. If the rash tends to pop up on and off again over a stretch of time, you may want to visit an allergist. They will likely run special tests to identify possible triggers that are causing the breakout.
Be on the lookout for more threatening symptoms, too. If you suspect angioedema , you should visit the emergency room immediately. You should also seek emergency care if the hives are associated with an allergic reaction and include other symptoms such as dizziness swollen lips, eyes, and tongue or anything that makes it hard to breathe. A good rule of thumb is that if youre having trouble breathing, go to the emergency room or call 911, Choudhury says.
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Are Hives Serious
- To know exactly what kind of hives one has, or to learn more about research into the immune basis of hives or about rarer forms of this condition, consult a physician. It is important, however, to keep in mind that most cases of urticaria are annoying, not serious, and almost always temporary.
J Allergy Clin ImmunolJ Allergy Clin ImmunolAn Bras DermatolCurr Allergy Asthma RepAllergy Asthma Immunol ResPediatrics in ReviewAllergology International
What Causes Hives
Hives are usually caused by an allergic reaction to something that you have encountered or swallowed. When you have an allergic reaction, your body begins to release histamines into your blood. Histamines are chemicals your body produces in an attempt to defend itself against infection and other outside intruders. Unfortunately, in some people, the histamines can cause swelling, itching, and many of the symptoms that are experienced with hives. In terms of allergens, hives can be caused by factors such as pollen, medications, food, animal dander, and insect bites.
Hives might also be caused by circumstances besides allergies. Its not uncommon for people to experience hives as the result of stress, tight clothes, exercise, illnesses, or infections. Its also possible to develop hives as the result of excessive exposure to hot or cold temperatures or from irritation due to excessive sweating. As there are several potential triggers, many times the actual cause of hives cannot be determined.
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Who Is At Risk
People who are known to have allergies are more likely to get hives. You may also be at risk to develop hives if you are on medication or if you are unknowingly exposed to things you may be allergic to, such as food or pollen. If you are already ill with an infection or a health condition, you may be more vulnerable to developing hives.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hives
Hives are characterized by red or pale-colored welts on the skin, which typically come and go throughout the day, says Sourab Choudhury, DO, a dermatologist and the chief medical officer at the Dermatology Specialists, a private dermatology practice in New York City. Sometimes they itch, burn, or sting.
Usually the welts will be surrounded by clear edges. They may look similar to bug bites, but hives generally will appear and disappear more quickly. They may itch, sometimes severely, and theyre not always the same size or shape. They may be as small as the tip of a pen or as large as a dinner plate. When you press the center of a hive bump on the skin, it likely will turn from red to white, which is known as blanching.
Hives may appear on the body grouped together and take over a large area of the skin, or as a couple of individual welts that show up here and there. They can appear anywhere on the body, though some people get them in the same spot over and over again .
Generally, youll know you have hives simply by seeing the hives themselves. If you experience other symptoms, such as swelling in the eyes, lips, or inside of the throat, or if you have trouble breathing, you should call 911 or see a doctor immediately, says Sapna Palep, MD, a dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. These symptoms indicate you may be experiencing a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
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