Hives (urticaria) are red and itchy rashes caused by a skin reaction. Hives occur in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some manifest as small spots or blotches. Others appear as thin, raised lines. Hives appear on the skin in a variety of sizes. They can range in size from as small as a pinprick to as large as a dinner plate. Regardless of their appearance, they usually appear and disappear within a few hours. Some people get hives once and never get them again. It is also possible to have a lot of flare-ups.
Hives affect about 20% of the population. They are frequently the result of an allergic reaction to a food or drug. They usually vanish quickly. However, for a small number of people, chronic hives (chronic urticaria) reoccur with no known cause. Many Pharmaceuticals and CROs are conducting chronic spontaneous Urticaria Clinical Trials in Michigan, USA to understand this debilitating condition and find a solution to it.
What are Hives (Urticaria)?
Hives are red raised bumps or splotches on the skin. They are a type of swelling on the skin’s surface. They occur when your body has an allergic reaction to an allergen, which is a substance that is normally harmless to most people. However, if hives persist for an extended period of time, autoimmune or systemic conditions may develop. Hives can be itchy, as well as burning or stinging. Urticaria is the term medically used for hives.
Hives’ welts can sometimes join together to form larger areas known as plaques. Hives typically fade within 24 hours, though they may be visible for longer.
Hives can be extremely uncomfortable and disrupt sleep and daily activities. Many people have these blisters on a daily basis for a year or more known as Chronic hives (Chronic Urticaria). This is more common in people who have certain autoimmune diseases. However, the cause of chronic hives is frequently unknown. Hives can be relieved with antihistamines, steroids, and immunosuppressants.
Other Rashes vs. Hives
The main distinction between hives and a rash is that hives are a type of rash that is characterized by swollen, pale-red or skin-colored bumps on the skin that appear and disappear quickly and tend to “blanch” (turn white) when pressed.
There are many other different ways rashes present. Both hives and rashes are believed to be itchy. When someone has hives, the rash usually has these characteristics:
- It is raised and is irritating.
- Swelling may occur beneath the affected skin.
- Papules or plaques may form.
- Skin that has been affected can expand and join together.
- Pink, red, or skin-colored rashes are possible.
- When someone presses on the center, it turns pale.
- Each bump may last less than 24 hours, but it may be replaced by another bump.
- The bumps may appear and disappear, and their shape or location may change abruptly.
Hives and Rosacea
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition affecting primarily the face. Small red bumps on the nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin may resemble hives, with reddened areas across the face.
Rosacea is limited to the face and is frequently preceded by blushing easily.
Hives and Eczema
Eczema can resemble hives. Both have itchy red patches of skin. Eczema, on the other hand, has small, raised bumps. It typically appears on the cheeks and chin but can occur anywhere on the body.
Hives and Angioedema
Angioedema is similar to hives but appears to affect deeper layers of the skin. It is most common around the eyes, cheeks, and lips and is characterized by large, thick, firm blisters as well as swelling, redness, pain, or warmth in the affected area. Severe angioedema can be life-threatening if swelling causes your throat or tongue to block your airway. It can occur concurrently with hives.
Hives and Contact Dermatitis
Many symptoms of contact dermatitis are similar to those of hives, including a red rash, bumps, and itchy, dry skin. While hives can appear anywhere on the body, contact dermatitis appears where the skin has been exposed to an irritant or allergen. It usually clears up in a few days to a few weeks. Antihistamines, which are also used to treat hives, are used in treatment.
Hives and Stress
Skin diseases can be exacerbated by stress and anxiety. Chronic hives (chronic urticaria) are itchy and unpleasant. You might start to feel self-conscious about your appearance. Most of the time, doctors are unable to determine the cause of chronic hives. However, antihistamines, steroids, and even immunosuppressants can be beneficial. You can also relieve itching and swelling at home. Chronic hives eventually go away for many people, though it may take a year or more.
By examining your skin and learning more about your symptoms, your doctor can diagnose chronic hives. Chronic hives (chronic urticaria) diagnostic tests can pinpoint or rule out causes. You may be asked for one or more of the following tests:
- An allergy test is performed to determine whether an allergen is causing a reaction.
- A blood test to look for high levels of antibodies, which are proteins that help your body fight bacteria, allergens, and other substances.
- Urine test to look for bacterial infections.
- Skin biopsy is used to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other causes.
Hives aren’t a common condition — roughly 20 percent of people will deal with them at some point in their life — they’re also downright annoying, even to the point where sleeping, working, going to school, and socializing are adversely affected. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options available, some of that can be carried out in the comfort of your home.
- Allergy medications: Antihistamines, which are available over-the-counter (OTC) or on prescription, relieve itching and help to reduce or prevent allergic reactions.
- Allergy shots: A monthly injection of a drug called omalizumab (Xolair®) blocks your body’s production of immunoglobulin E (IgE) (IgE). People with severe allergies may produce too much IgE, resulting in issues such as chronic hives and asthma.
- Steroids: Corticosteroids like prednisone (Deltasone®, Rayos®) can ease symptoms that don’t respond to allergy medicines.
- Hydroxychloroquine: According to one study, 8 out of 10 people with autoimmune disease-induced chronic hives experienced symptom relief after taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) for three months or longer.
- Cyclosporine: This immunosuppressive medication is extremely effective at treating severe chronic hives. However, if taken for an extended period of time, it can have serious side effects.
To relieve itchy skin and soothe inflammation, try the following home remedies:
- Apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream.
- Several times per day, apply cool compresses to the hives (unless cool temperatures make hives worse).
- Take a refreshing bath or shower.
- Moisturize dry skin with hypoallergenic lotions and creams.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing made of soft, non-irritating fabric.
Hives that last more than six weeks are considered to be chronic. Many people have chronic hives (chronic urticaria), that usually has no discernible cause. It is easy to misdiagnose in these cases as allergic hives or another condition. To make an accurate diagnosis, other skin conditions should be ruled out.
Consult a doctor if hives are interfering with your quality of life. They can recommend treatment and determine whether an underlying health problem is to blame. If necessary, behavioral therapy for any psychological illness associated with skin itching may be included. Many Clinical Research Organizations in Michigan near you, are conducting research studies to better understand and treat this condition.