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HIVES – URTICARIA

Hives (urticaria) are very itchy red welts on the body. Urticarial patches can come and go quickly, usually within just 24 hours. Urticaria is called acute if it is new in its onset and classified as chronic if it lasts more than 6 weeks.

Hives are the result of excess of histamine release from specialized cells in the skin known as mast cells. The released histamine then causes the swelling, itching and redness characteristic of urticaria. Although the cause of most urticaria is unknown, some factors are associated with hives. Foods mostly commonly associated with hives include: dried fruits, nuts, fish, chocolate, tomatoes, berries and milk. Some medications such as aspirin, or inhaling fumes, and certain infections can also cause hives.

Some subtypes of urticaria are associated with heat, cold, stress, vibration or exercise. Sometimes people can get a hive-like reaction from rubbing or stroking the skin; this is known as ‘dermatographism’.

If urticaria/hives persist for a long time, it is important to rule out any underlying cancers as the cause. Therefore certain blood work or routine health measures would be recommended. If it is urticaria, the result of excess histamine, the mainstay of treatment involves the use of anti-histamine medications. Treatment is often based on controlling the symptoms and eliminating the cause.

Wondering if you have hives or what to do about it? Contact Dr. Kormeili’s office today for a prompt evaluation and treatment plan for you.

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