What are Hives?
Hives are a skin condition characterised by raised red bumps accompanied by itching. They are caused by the leakage of small amounts of fluid from the blood vessels beneath the epidermis and may appear either in isolated spots or as an overall rash. The bumps can range from a few millimetres to several centimetres.
Hives fall into two main categories:
In acute urticaria, the rash usually disappears within six weeks
Urticaria chronica: In rare cases, the inflammation can persist for years.
Approximately 20% of people will experience acute urticaria at least once in their lifetime, while only 1% will experience chronic urticaria.
Hives: Causes and Symptoms
Allergens, irritants, infections, medications, or physical factors like heat or physical exertion can cause urticaria that develops suddenly.
An accumulation of histamine and other chemical messengers in the skin leads to the dilation of blood vessels. This permits extra fluid to leak, resulting in itching, swelling and red/pink discolouration.
In the case of chronic urticaria, the body's immune system incorrectly identifies healthy tissue as a threat and attacks it, resulting in the condition being linked to autoimmune problems.
However, specific triggers can make symptoms worse even when no apparent cause can be identified, such as:
- Increasing body temperature
- Emotional stress
- Drinking alcohol or caffeine
Patches of red or white and raised skin may indicate this condition. These spots tend to be itchy, painful, or cause a burning sensation and may be accompanied by swelling in other parts of the body, such as the hands and feet. The skin spots usually disappear after a few hours, and then new patches appear.
How Long Do Hives Last?
Generally, signs and symptoms will only last between eight and 24 hours. In some cases, however, the symptoms can take days or even months to disappear entirely.
Urticaria is a condition that can be unpredictable and triggered by various factors, such as heat, exercise, and stress. The symptoms can flare up and last for a prolonged time, sometimes months or years.
A more severe condition may be present if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Feeling of dizziness
- Extreme chest tightness or trouble breathing
- Feeling your tongue or throat swelling
Acute urticaria: If the symptoms of this mild condition become more severe or last for an extended period, a physician may recommend antihistamines or corticosteroids to help manage the symptoms.
Chronic urticaria: Long-term hives sufferers may be prescribed antihistamines, menthol cream (to reduce itching) and corticosteroids.
Treatments for this condition include, however, other types such as:
- It is important to avoid triggers that worsen the situation and lead to flare-ups.
- Meditation and hypnosis can reduce symptoms and stress levels through relaxation techniques.
- Reports have also been that managing diet impacts urticaria symptoms, namely eating plenty of spinach, fish, tomatoes, yogurt, chocolate, strawberries, and meats.
If you think you may be suffering from hives, speaking to a doctor as soon as possible is important. Hives can be diagnosed by your doctor and provide advice and prescription medication to help treat the condition. Be sure to speak to a doctor today to get your needed help.
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