Hives, medically known as urticaria, are red and itchy welts that appear on the skin of those affected by an allergic reaction or other medical condition. They can be caused by a variety of things, including food allergies, environmental allergens, insect bites, medications, and even stress. Hives can range in size from small bumps to large welts and may last for a few hours or several days. While hives usually resolve on their own without treatment, they can be very uncomfortable and even embarrassing for those affected.
The cause of hives is often difficult to pinpoint since there are so many potential triggers. In some cases, the cause is not known at all and the hives will resolve on their own within a few days. However, if the hives persist for more than six weeks or are accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing, then medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.
When diagnosing hives, doctors will typically take a thorough medical history to determine if any potential triggers exist and perform physical examinations to look for signs of infection or inflammation. Blood tests may also be performed to check for certain antibodies that could indicate an allergic reaction. Additionally, skin tests may be done to determine what substances are causing the hives. Treatment options depend upon the underlying cause of the hives but generally involve avoiding known triggers and taking antihistamines or corticosteroids to reduce itching and swelling. In severe cases where anaphylaxis is present (a life-threatening allergic reaction), epinephrine injections may be necessary to stop the reaction from progressing further.
In conclusion, hives can be caused by a variety of things including food allergies, environmental allergens, insect bites, medications, stress and more. If you experience persistent or severe hives accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing then it is important to seek medical attention right away in order to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan in place.