What Are Hives?
Hives (urticaria) are red, often itchy welts or bumps on your skin. They can be small dots or cover an area as large as a dinner plate. Hives can appear anywhere on your body. They sometimes appear suddenly or fade away and reappear somewhere else. They can even merge to form large welts.
This condition can go away quickly or last for days. Hives typically last less than six weeks (acute) but may last longer (chronic).
Larger welts can occur under your skin (angioedema). This can cause swelling in your eyelids and lips requiring emergency medical attention.
The cause of hives isn’t always clear. They may be due to an allergy or other immune system conditions. Some people get hives from a predictable trigger, such as a certain medication or an insect bite. This is called fixed hives.
Other causes can include:
- Excessive sweating
- Emotional stress
- Heat, cold or sunlight
Symptoms of hives vary but typically go away without medical complications. Hives symptoms include:
- Raised red or pink bumps or swollen welts
- Bumps or welts in a group or connected to cover a large area of skin
- Bumps or welts that fade within hours or a day in one spot but reappear in another
- Itching, stinging or painful skin
Treatment focuses on easing symptoms. Usually, the condition will heal on its own. Your doctor may advise over-the-counter antihistamines or topical creams to relieve symptoms. In some cases, prescription medicine may help.
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