Hives refers to skin allergic reactions caused by certain allergen substances that might have come in the vicinity of the patient or if the patient had consumed the allergen in his/her food.
Hives rash does not require immediate medical attention unless the hives are persistent and last more than a month. They are crazily itchy and often unsightly.
Symptoms of Hives Rash
Skin hives appear as raised pale or red colored welts on the skin. These hives arrive in clusters and often change shapes and may also relocate frequently.
Often patients find that hives disappear on their own and suddenly there is an onset of hives again. There is associated itching and irritation on the area that has been affected by hives.
They may be located on the arms, trunks, legs, chest etc. Sometimes the face and tongue also might be affected by hives rash. This may cause the face to get swollen abnormally. This special condition of hives rash is also referred to as angioedema.
In cases of angioedema, the condition of the patient may be serious as well as the swelling on the face may constrict the breathing tubes. The patient may find it difficult to swallow in such circumstances. If the condition worsens, there is a requirement of immediate medical help.
What Are The Causes of Hives Rash?
Hives rash can be caused due to anything as it is an allergic reaction on the skin. A person may be allergic to a food substance, any food additive or even an item of furniture.
Hives rash is caused when the mast cells on the skin begin to produce histamines on the skin surface. These mast cells are part of autoimmune system of the body, where the IgE antibodies in the blood stream are triggered as an allergic response to an allergen. Hives rash is the result.
The following allergen substances are found to be commonly responsible for triggering hives rash in the body:
Food substances or food additives, such as eggs, chocolates, shell fish, soy etc and even colors added in the foods may trigger an onset of hives rash. Identifying the causative factor of hives rash is again a big challenge because pinpointing the allergen substance from the variety of foods that a person may have eaten earlier is difficult.
Doctors may ask the patient to undergo a thorough blood and relevant allergy tests to pinpoint the factor that might have triggered the allergic reaction.
Hives Probable Causes
Cat’s dander: A person may be allergic to animal dander among which cat’s dander is the most common. People with cats as pets must therefore check if they are at all allergic to cat’s dander before ruling out any other possible reason.
Common allergens which are known to often trigger allergic reactions are oral medications and drugs. Ingestion of these drugs during fevers or illnesses might trigger hives rash on the body. Sulfa drugs, aspirins, antibiotics such as penicillin might be responsible for hives. These drugs must be immediately stopped when hives occur and the patient be referred to a good dermatologist.
Emotional stress and temperamental vagaries are also known to trigger allergic reactions which appear as hives rash on the body. Stress is found to be an important factor and people are generally asked to calm down with some nerve-relaxing therapy, either in the form of foods or some other source of relaxation.
Extreme weather temperatures are also known to cause hives rash on the skin. It has been found that in very hot and very cold conditions the auto-immune system of the body might get irritated and result in severe allergic reactions.
Treatment of Hives Rash
Most of the conditions of hives can be ignored as hives are known to disappear on their own. But if a person finds that hives are persistent and are lasting more than a month, then it is advisable to visit a doctor. Moreover, if the hives rash is disfiguring and causes problem to the patient, then medical treatment of hives rash is the only solution.
The first approach to treat hives is to eliminate the causative allergen that triggers hives reaction. Once the doctor helps the patient identify the actual allergen that could have triggered the allergic reaction of hives, it is immediately eliminated from the foods and vicinity of the patient. In the absence of the allergen, the patient is more likely to recover fast.
Doctors may also prescribe anti-histamine drugs that are known to effectively treat the condition of rashes caused by hives. Some popular anti-histamine drugs which are found to be successful in treating hives are Loratidine, Cetrizine etc. Anti-histamine drugs are known to trigger drowsiness among patients and even make them sluggish and lethargic.
You may approach your doctor who would substitute non-sedating anti-histamine drugs keeping in mind the family history of the patient.
If the hives rash is persistent and is irritating to the patient then, doctors may prescribe stronger medications of steroids or corticosterones that are effective in battling hives.
If hives turn out to be life-threatening as the person is finding it extremely difficult to swallow or finds difficulty in breathing, then he/she must be rushed to a doctor. In such severe cases of hives rash, the patient may be given epinephrine injections to get rid of the above mentioned symptoms.
There are certain home remedies as well to treat some levels of hives. If a person suspects that emotional stress and depression has led to the allergic reaction of hives, then it is recommended to have a nerve-calming herbal tea. It has been observed that sipping chamomile tea or a herbal green tea with rosemary leaves has beneficial effects on hives.
Tea made from boiled bark and leaves of Red Alder tree is found to have healing properties and getting rid of the problem of hives. The presence of tannin astringent in the tea quickens the process of healing in the body. It has also been observed that hives rash can be treated by drinking a glass of papaya juice daily as papaya is known to have strong medicinal properties.
Apart from these, it is also not advised to wear tight fitting clothes or be in extreme hot or cold temperatures as this might only aggravate hives rash.
Doctors suggest taking a cold water bath, where the temperature of water is not icy cold, but room temperature. Avoid vigorous rubbing of the skin with a towel if you have hives rash on the skin.