Skin hives (also called utricaria) is the most common skin allergy that can occur to anyone, anytime. You may be allergic to any food or non-food substance which might trigger the onset of hives.
Skin hives make an appearance as raised welts which are red or pale in color. On pressing in the middle, the welts blanche and lose color. Skin hives can be itchy and irritating. Most often hives disappear and make their appearance again in different locations such as legs, arms, and trunk and sometimes the face as well.
Hives also appear as clusters on the skin and keep changing their shapes and structure.
Skin hives generally last for less than 24 hours. Most of the conditions of hives need not be taken very seriously. However, if the skin hives are persistent and reappear after some time or last more than a month, then one should seek the advice of a dermatologist.
In such cases, the condition of hives is referred to as: chronic hives. A person suffering from chronic hives may find the condition of skin hives very disfiguring. Also the swelling on the face and various other parts of the body may cause anaphylactic shock among people. Here, the person finds it difficult to breathe properly and may even collapse owing to constriction in the food pipe.
There should be immediate arrangement of medical help in such cases.
Causes of Skin Hives
Skin hives are allergic reactions to any food or non-food substance which a person might have unknowingly administered. In fact anything can trigger the onset of skin hives.
The most common causes of skin hives have been given below:
Food substances: People might end up getting skin hives if they are allergic to certain foods, such as eggs, chocolates, soy or nuts! Foods are the most common factors that trigger skin hives. People who have consumed shellfish are found to have an onset of skin hives once they have eaten it. Identifying the causative factor which had triggered the allergic skin reaction of hives can also become quite a challenge.
Not only foods, but some people may also be allergic to food additives and food colors. Even tiny amounts of food additives can trigger the allergic reaction in some people. Ingredients in foods such as salicylates, sulfates, glutamates etc are known to trigger allergic reactions and skin hives.
Certain drugs and medications: People are also found to be allergic to certain drugs and medicines such as Sulfa drugs, aspirin, penicillin etc. A bout of infection may have forced the patient to have taken up this medication. Then there would have been an onset of the skin allergy- skin hives. These drugs have the potential to stimulate the autoimmune system of the body. When there is a production of histamines from the mast cells of the skin, allergic reactions are bound to happen. This results in hives and its related symptoms.
Extreme cold and hot temperatures can also trigger skin hives. It is often found that keeping the arm in very cold water or a sheet of ice induces the condition of hives on skin. Similarly, very hot temperatures also trigger “prickly-like” hives-like appearance that just get aggravated on rubbing or by vigorous scratching.
Insect bites such as stings of wasps or bees are known to trigger moderate to severe allergic reaction among people. In fact, the auto-immune system of the body gets stimulated as a result of insect bites which in turn produce a gush of histamines in the blood stream. This would eventually give the appearance of hives in the body.
Viral, fungal and even bacterial infections are also known to trigger severe hives on skin. As a result of the infection, a person may have fever along with debilitating condition of hives. Apart from the above mentioned factors that trigger the onset of skin hives, it has been found that emotional stress and mental turbulence are also some of the factors that cause hives. Wearing very tight clothes also worsens the condition of hives. Excessive sweating and perspiration is also known to trigger hives on the skin. It is not wrong to say that anything can trigger skin hives. In fact the most common-place things such as furniture items, carpets, dusting clothes, mats etc can trigger the allergic reaction of hives.
Other related diseases such as lupus and leukemia cancer are also known to trigger hives. In the disease conditions which aggravate auto-immune system of the body, hives is a common thing to occur.
Treatment of Skin Hives
The first step towards treating hives is to eliminate the allergen substance that has triggered the allergy reaction. Identifying the allergen which could have triggered the onset of hives is also tricky as one can not be sure to label that substance.
Doctors ask patients to provide allergy tests, blood tests and detailed family history as well as related diet charts to know what had been in the premises of the patient or what the patient had been indulging in. in most of the cases, it is easier to identify the causative allergen, more so if it is in the diet of the patient. After identifying the allergen, the right step is to eliminate the allergen from the vicinity of the patient.
If the condition of hives persists, then the doctor may prescribe some popular anti-histamine drugs such as Benadryl, mixture of Zinc oxides or other milder forms of medication. Most of the anti-histamine drugs have a property of sedating the patient and may make a person lethargic also. You may ask your doctor to change the medicine and give a less sedating medication.
In the case of chronic hives, doctors may prescribe oral steroids or corticosterols. These medications can be safely used in treating the condition of hives. In cases of life-threatening hives where the food pipe has been constricted by severe swelling of the tissues of the face, the patient may be injected with a solution of epinephrine so that the condition of hives improves.
There are also certain things that a person must avoid while tackling with the problem of hives. Do not scratch the area which ahs been affected by hives. Also avoid taking hot showers. In fact, taking cold water baths and gentle patting of the body with a soft towel followed by application of calamine lotion or milk of magnesia does wonders to the healing process of hives.