What Are Hives?

Hives are pink or red slightly raised bumps, or slightly raised patches of skin. These bumps or raised patches of skin sometimes have a pale center. Hives usually itch. However, they also sting or burn.

Hives can appear anywhere on the body. They appear in various sizes and shapes. Their size can range anywhere from the size of a mosquito bite to the size of a dinner plate. Hive may appear on your skin like rings or groups of rings joined together. Hives may appear in clusters and can change locations on your body within hours. Hives may appear in bunches on your face then go away. Then more will appear on another part of your body.

Hives are very common. It is estimated that abour 10-20 percent of people get them at least once in their lifetime. Hives are usually harmless, though they may be signs of a serious allergic reaction.

Medical terms, hives is called urticaria. When a person is exposed to something which triggers the hives, cells in the body release histamine and other subtances. This causes fluids to leak from the small blood vessels under the skin. The collected fluid under the skin forms the blotches which we call the hives.

Why Do I Get Hives?

There are several reasons why people get hives. Most of the time, the cause is unknown. One of the main reasons we get hives is because of allergic reaction. The most common triggers of allergies are foods (e.g. berries, shellfishm etc.), medications (e.g. antibiotics), and insect bites or stings.

Other causes of hives that are not caused by allergic reactions include:

  • exposure to the cold (like diving into a cold pool)
  • exercise
  • exposure to the sun
  • nervousness or stress
  • infections caused by viruses

Regardless of the cause, hives can last for a few minutes, a few or hours or even a few days.

What Will Your Doctor Do?

Doctors can easily diagnose hive. He simply has to look at your skin and listen to you about how it happened. Your doctor can can help you find out the cause of your hives, but more often than not, the cause will never be known. If you are getting hives a lot or if your reaction was severe, your doctor amy refer you to another doctor who specializes in allergies.

Sometimes your doctor may prescribea medication called an antihistamine to relieve the itchiness and/or sting and burn. Often, hives clear up on their own without any medication or without consulting your doctor.Sometimes though, hives can be a sign of a more serious allergic reaction. Serious allergic reactions can affect breathing and other body functions.

In cases like this, the person needs to be taken to the hospital immediately. People who are aware that they have serious allergies can carry around a special medicine, just in case. The medicine is called epinephrine. Epinephrine is given by shots. Normally, nurses administer these shots, but since allergic reactions can happen very fast and can strike anywhere, many adults and kids carry their medication around with them and know how to administer shots on themselves.

Can I Prevent Hives?

Yes – if you know what causes your hives. If your hives are caused by allergic reactions to a certain food, the you should avoid eating that kind of food. If you get hives when you get nervous, try to relax and exercise relaxation breathing.

However, if you don’t know what causes your hives, it would be difficult to prevent them. There are kids, and even adults who get hives when they catch a virus, such as a cold or a stomach flu. In cases like this, there’s not much you can do to avoid being sick, aaprt from regularly washing your hands.

Fortunately, hives are usually not serious and people normally outgrow them.