Urticaria is a rash that is frequently labeled as “hives.” This rash appears as an eruption of pale bumps, splotchy elevated or raised patches, or even welt-like bumps. They seem to appear almost overnight or without any advance warning. They are frequently accompanied by extreme itchiness in the raised or swollen areas, and when hives are especially intense, they can create plaques across a person’s body that can cover much larger regions of skin.
The causes of urticaria, or hives, are varied. One of the most common sources is allergies. No part of the body is excluded from possible eruption of hives: this includes the extremities of the arms, legs, feet and hands, and even the face, tongue, lips, or ears. The physical appearance of the inflamed patches can involve reddish or whitish skin coloring. The welts are sometimes also called wheals. Some hives only last a few minutes, days, or a matter of weeks.
Some of the most common underlying allergens include various types of foods and possibly chemical dimensions of food or ingestible products. Frequent culprits include peanuts, shellfish, nuts, and eggs. Some various types of medications can also be linked to the outbreak of urticaria: these medications can include over-the-counter substances like aspirin, or be prescribed substances like penicillin, sulfa, and cipro.
Other external sources can also cause eruptions of urticaria on a person’s skin. For example, if a person is allergic to a particular type of insect bite or sting, this could be a possible source of a hives outbreak. Occasionally, an eruption of urticaria can accompany an infection, like the common cold, strep throat, or viral infections. Other types of illnesses which might catalyze an urticaria reaction could be mononucleosis or hepatitis. In addition, some cases of hives have been linked to blood transfusions.
The source of hives can have an impact on whether the condition is classified as acute or chronic. Shorter spans are labeled as acute. However, a condition of chronic hives can last beyond a period of six weeks, and can relapse at any time. The underlying sources of chronic hives is not always known; some autoimmune disorders can create this type of accompanying response and/or symptom in people.
Various types of physical causes can be linked to a recurrence of chronic hives. These potentially sources include physical rubbing or scratching at the skin, the application of continuous pressure on an area of the skin, a shift in temperature, or being out in the sun.
Hives typically do not create any type of scarring once the condition has been resolved. Typically, the only type of urticaria that can cause any type of physical change in the skin’s appearance is vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels. This type of hive could bruise the impacted areas. Sometimes an anaphylactic stimulus has caused the onset of an attack of hives. Because of the nature of urticaria, sometimes its diagnosis can be confused with other types of rashes or skin inflammation and/or disorders. Some conditions that urticaria could be confused with include atopic dermatitis or eczema, contact dermatitis, and insect bites. A primary way that a physician confirms an official diagnosis of urticaria is by the welt-like shapes that are manifested, and the tendency of hives to turn whitish when physical pressure is applied to them.
If a person experiences challenges with breathing or has a swollen tongue in association with an outbreak of hives, that individual should seek immediate medical assistance and attention.
Symptoms of hives can be affected by the potential source. Doctors and dermatologists might employ a variety of methods to try and determine the underlying cause of a hive, especially if a case becomes recurrent and/or could be classified as chronic. Specialists might need to be consulted: for example, an allergist might have to perform a sequence of tests to ascertain what some of the underlying causes could be. This specialist would need to catalogue a detailed personal and family medical history as part of this type of approach.
In addition to compiling these two types of histories, doctors would probably also examine potential elements in a person’s living environment. Allergists could also employ allergen skin tests and food allergy tests in an attempt to secure a confirmed diagnosis and source stimulant for the outbreak of hives. In rare cases, a physician may administer or secure a skin biopsy as a means of identifying the possible allergen with greater certainty.
In all cases of hives and urticaria, a physician or dermatologist should be consulted to obtain an appropriate medical diagnosis, treatment, and protocol.