Hives are a skin condition that often can be a result of allergic reactions to drugs, infections, insects, foods, plants, or other allergens. Hives are extremely common and manifest as a small itchy bump on the skin that are red and often come in groups. Hives occur quickly, and go away within a few hours; they are caused by your bodies release of histamine which is a chemical that is part of the immune system. While removing the stimulus for hives is the best prevention, some medications may help relieve hives as well. Hives can be part of a serious allergic reaction, so if trouble breathing, nausea, abdominal pain, or fainting occur in conjunction with hives, seek emergency medical attention.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Many people will develop hives at one point or another during their lifetime. Often they occur with exposure to allergens, including viral infections, certain drugs like over the counter painkillers or antibiotics, bee stings, foods including fish and nuts, plants, latex, or other environmental allergens. If you know you are allergic to certain things, avoiding them is the best way to reduce your risk of developing hives.
HIVES (URTICARIA) SYMPTOMS
Hives occur in isolation or as part of a more significant syndrome. They appear suddenly over a few minutes and look like a small raised bump on your skin, that is red with a central area of clear skin. They typically occur in groups, and disappear just as suddenly as they began. If you have symptoms in addition to hives such as breathing trouble, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or lightheadedness it is important to seek emergency medical care as it may be a serious allergic reaction.
Diagnosis and Hives (urticaria) Treatment
Hives can be diagnosed based on the appearance of the skin alone. If you were exposed to something that you are known to be allergic to, it is even easier to know that you likely have hives. If the cause of the hives is unknown, and especially if they are severe or repeated, you may need to undergo testing to determine what they are caused by. Typically, this can be done with blood work, and in certain cases a doctor can refer you to an allergy specialist who can do specific testing to determine the cause. If the hives only occurred once or were very minor, your doctor may not do any testing or recommend any further treatment - sometimes it may be useful to have an epinephrine pen available in case you develop a serious allergic reaction.
To treat hives, you can take a number of antihistamine medications to reduce the itching and swelling. diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and loratadine (Claritin) are the most common of these types of medications. For more severe reactions, a doctor can prescribe an epinephrine injection, or recommend you have an EpiPen which you inject yourself in case of serious allergic reactions. If you are concerned about your hives and having allergic reaction, it is important to seek emergency help.
How PlushCare Works
At PlushCare all of our visits are through a simple and convenient phone or video consultation. Our doctors are able to help diagnose hives and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. If appropriate, we can provide a prescription for antihistamines and EpiPen, or order lab tests to help diagnose and monitor the condition. If the doctor prescribes medication, the prescription will be sent to the pharmacy of your choice for immediate pick-up. If lab tests are ordered, you can take the order to any Quest laboratory location you like.