Urticaria

Other names: Chronic hives (urticaria)

DEFINITION

Hives are a skin reaction that causes red or white itchy welts. Chronic hives are a condition in which the welts last more than six weeks or recur over months or years. Often, the cause of chronic hives is not clear and can be a sign of an underlying health problem.

SYMPTOMS

CAUSES

The welts that come with hives arise when certain cells release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream. Triggers include pain medications, insects, infections, scratching, heat or cold, stress, sunlight, exercise, and certain foods.

RISK FACTORS

Factors that increase your risk of developing chronic hives include being female and being a young adult.

COMPLICATIONS

Complications of chronic hives include difficulty breathing and serious allergic reactions. People with chronic hives may be at increased risk of developing immune system disorders like thyroid disease and lupus.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Tests to determine the underlying cause of chronic hives may include blood tests, allergy tests, and tests to rule out underlying conditions.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Treatment for chronic hives may involve antihistamines, histamine blockers, anti-inflammation medications, antidepressants, and other medications under study.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Precautions to prevent or soothe the recurring skin reactions of chronic hives include wearing loose clothing, avoiding scratching, keeping the affected area cool, keeping a diary of triggers, and avoiding known triggers.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Alternative medicine approaches for providing relief of symptoms may include diet restrictions, supplements, relaxation techniques, acupuncture, and herbal washes.

QUESTIONS

  1. What are chronic hives?

Chronic hives are a condition where welts last more than six weeks or recur over months or years.

  1. What are the symptoms of chronic hives?

Symptoms include red or white welts, itching, swelling causing pain or burning.

  1. What can trigger chronic hives?

Triggers can include pain medications, insects, infections, scratching, stress, and certain foods.

  1. Who is at higher risk for developing chronic hives?

Being female and being a young adult increases the risk of developing chronic hives.

  1. What complications can arise from chronic hives?

Complications include difficulty breathing and serious allergic reactions.

  1. How are chronic hives diagnosed?

Diagnosis involves physical exams, keeping track of symptoms through a diary, blood tests, and allergy tests.

  1. What treatments are available for chronic hives?

Treatments may include antihistamines, histamine blockers, anti-inflammation medications, antidepressants, and other medications under study.

  1. What lifestyle changes can help manage chronic hives?

Lifestyle changes like wearing loose clothing, avoiding scratching, keeping cool compresses on affected areas can help manage symptoms.

  1. What alternative medicine approaches may provide relief for chronic hives?

Diet restrictions, supplements like vitamins B-12 and C, relaxation techniques like acupuncture may provide relief for symptoms.

  1. When should emergency care be sought for chronic hives?

Emergency care should be sought if there is difficulty breathing or signs of a serious allergic reaction such as chest tightness or swelling in the throat.