Hives (Urticaria)

What are hives?
Hives, also called urticaria, is allergic in origin and is characterized by profound itching, red circular or irregularly-shaped eruptions on any part of the body. 

These eruptions can remain on the body for variable period, anywhere between few seconds to even hours. They have tendency to disappear and reappear. They tend to disappear without leaving behind any trace. 

What causes hives?
Most of the common factors known to cause hives includes food, environmental factors, drugs or infections, as well as others.  In the majority of cases the cause is known despite efforts to determine why a patient has urticaria.

Can anyone get hives?
Hives are very common; 10-20 percent of the population will have at least one episode in their lifetime. Most episodes of hives disappear quickly in a few days to a few weeks. Occasionally, a person will continue to have hives for many years.

What is the treatment for hives?
For newly diagnosed hives, we typically give supportive therapy for the first six weeks.  For chronic hives, your physician will try to find and remove the cause.  Antihistamines can also be prescribed by your dermatologist to provide relief. Antihistamines work best if taken on a regular schedule to prevent hives from forming. No one antihistamine works best for everyone, so your dermatologist may need to try more than one or different combinations to find what works best for you. In severe hives, an injection of epinephrine (adrenalin), a cortisone medication, or monthly injections of another medication may be needed.