Should I Worry About Hives and How Should I Treat Them?

What are Hives?

Hives are a sign that the body is sensitive to either a food substance, or something external that triggered a reaction. It is a sign that is hypersensitive to a reaction. About 20% of people will experience hives at some point in their lives. Hives appear in the form of raised patches of skin, either isolated or spread out on the body, with a whitish welt encircled by a reddish circle. They may vary in size from very small to very large, and usually last between one to 48 hours. New welts take the place of the old ones, and this cycle can last from one week to many weeks. Internally, the body’s capillaries and very small veins leak fluid from blood vessels. These fluids are then trapped in parts of the skin, causing swelling and redness in those areas.

The Culprits

Hives are unfortunately very common and easy to develop. They are caused by a number of things, some still unknown to researchers. Studies on the causes of hives have spanned many decades, baffling the medical community to this day. What we do know about hives is that the most common ones are caused by allergies to infections to certain medications, especially antibiotics, as well as colds and viruses carried within the body. Other causes of hives include wearing tight clothing, reactions to the nickel found in jewelry, exposure to severe high temperatures or cold water or air, sweating as a result of exercising, emotional stress, and bacterial infections such as strep throat are all a cause of hives.

The foods that cause hives and cause the most danger to the human body include foods such as fish, shellfish, peanuts, eggs, and milk. In addition to developing hives from certain foods, you can also suffer from hives through normal, everyday interaction with the environment. Hundreds of fatalities are reported each year from those who have been bitten by insects, mainly bees. Doctors say that some people are sensitive to the saliva from a bee sting, while others are not. The reason for this is uncertain at this time, but researchers are still conducting tests. Your doctor may know of a shot that may prevent an allergic reaction to insect bites.

Other sources of hives include animal dander and animal saliva, pollen and mold, and contact allergens such as plants, creams and heavy soaps. Blood tests conducted by your doctor will determine the exact cause of your hives, and what elements you need to avoid.

In nearly 70 percent of the cases reported, no specific reason is found as the cause of hives. It is not uncommon to come into contact with an allergic trigger either by inhaling, or touching something otherwise harmless to others, that may trigger a reaction in you, and you don’t know what it is. In many of these cases, hives is caused by an internal virus inside the body that heals itself in a short period of time, thus making viruses the number one cause for most cases of hives.

Treatments for Hives

Hives are usually treated with an antihistamine, which can be bought over the counter such as benedryl. Many antihistamines now come in non-drowsy formula, so drowsiness does not have to keep you from your daily activities. If the hives are persistent and resurface within six weeks of treatment, (called chronic urticaria) blood tests should be conducted to determine the underlying cause of the hives. In the majority of cases, hives is a common reaction to an allergic trigger initiated either by touching, inhaling or eating something that doesn’t agree with your system. Hives usually disappear within a short period time, or require an antihistamine. Always check with your doctor before taking any medications.