Severe hives Hives (also known as utricaria) is a harmless skin allergy reaction that generally makes its appearance as raised red or pale welts on the skin. The area affected by hives itch a great deal and is very irritating to the person suffering from it.
Severe hives is a peculiar skin condition where the hives rash is persistent and last more than six weeks. The other term for severe hives is chronic hives which is known to affect legs, arms, face, tongue, back and torso.
Mild forms of hives appear and disappear after some time on their own. However, some forms of hives continue to affect the person and may be extremely debilitating. The condition of severe hives is called as angioedema. It is because there is associated swelling in this kind of hives.
Symptoms of Severe Hives
Severe hives or chronic hives appear as severe swollen patches on various parts of the body. It is usually observed that severe hives affect the face and tongue of the person.
Here, the underlying layers of the skin are affected and are greatly swollen. Also, there is associated burning sensation and itching which just aggravates the situation.
Sometimes, swelling may constrict the food pipe and even make it difficult to breathe. The person maybe found panting for breathe or even choking as the food pipe is stifled as the swollen neighboring tissues press against it.
In such cases, the patient must be rushed to the doctor for immediate attention.
Causes of Severe Hives
The actual causes of severe hives or chronic hives are not really known. A person may be allergic to a food substance, such as shell fish, eggs, soy, chocolates etc whose ingestion might have triggered the onset of hives.
Certain food additives are also known to cause hives among people. Food additives may include food colors, preservatives etc. Identifying the substance which triggers food allergy is in fact the greatest challenge.
Apart from food-related allergens, people also maybe allergic to drugs and medications which they might have been consuming owing to certain medical conditions.
The common drugs which trigger severe hives rash on the skin are aspirin, sulfa drugs, penicillin etc. If you are taking any of these medicines and find that you are suffering from severe hives, then it is advisable to stop the popping of these pills totally. Your doctor can change the medicine and prescribe one to which you are not very allergic.
Emotional stress and depression can also trigger hives reaction which can bring great discomfort to the patient. Reaction of hives can also become cyclical as severe hives due to stress can result in swelling of the face, eyes, cheeks and tongue. This further depresses a person and he/she may get more stressed out!
Wearing tight fitting clothes can cause pressure hives. Apart from this, hives can also be caused by severe sweating and very hot or cold temperatures.
There may be a breakout of viral hives in children and adults that may be the source of this condition. Although hives isn’t contagious, the route of a viral illness may bring about hives in certain individuals.
Treatment of Severe Hives
Severe hives is the result of production of histamines in the body for no particular reason. In the presence of an allergen, some people begin to produce antibodies IgE in their blood stream.
These IgE antibodies then combine with the mast cells of the body and produce histamines. Presence of histamines in turn causes allergic reactions in the body.
In the cases of severe hives, doctors have found that administering anti-histamine drugs such as Benadryl may not be very effective in treating the condition. Yet, in the beginning this inexpensive medication is often prescribed so that the body prepares itself for regulating the histamine levels in the blood steam.
But there are certain drawbacks of taking Benadryl. Benadryl may trigger sleepiness in the patient and also make him/her lethargic.
In cases of persistent hives which are not being properly benefited by Benadryl, doctors often prescribe some popular non-sleep inducing anti-histamine drugs such as Fexofenadene and Cetrizine.
They are also more effective if the hives condition is mild. They need to be taken with a 12-hour gap. Another popular anti-histamine drug that is very effective on mild to sever forms of hives is Loratidine.
Severe hives or the chronic form of it are treated by administering oral steroids or corticosterones which suppress the swelling, hives rash and associated itching on the skin. Sometimes, steroids maybe given as injections or in the form of a pill or medicine.
The popular steroids are prednisone, methyl prednisone which is very effective and they also reduce the chance of the rash recurring back on the skin. In very debilitating cases of hives, injectible forms of epinephrine maybe administered to the patient which are known to bring the histamine levels down in the blood stream.
In severe conditions of anaphylactic shock associated with hives, patients are given epinephrine shots and intravenous fluids to control their blood pressure.