What Causes Your Itchy Hives?

Roughly 20% of people will experience itchy hives, otherwise known as urticaria, at some point, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. When you know what causes this condition, you can take effective steps to treat and prevent it.

Recognizing Hives

When your skin itches and appears swollen and red, you may suspect that a bug bite is to blame. However, your uncomfortable rash could be caused by something else. If bumps on your skin appear and disappear rapidly and you notice mild to severe itching, you could be experiencing hives. Hives can appear on any part of your body and can last for days, weeks or years. Hives that are short-lived are known as acute hives, while hives that last for six weeks or longer are known as chronic hives.

Key symptoms of hives include:

  • A sudden appearance of welts, known as wheals, that are pink, red, skin-colored or white with clear edges
  • Blanching, or red areas turning white when pressed
  • Changes in shape

Hives can migrate throughout your body. They may even develop in your throat area and cause swelling and restricted breathing. If this occurs, seek medical care immediately.

What Causes Itchy Hives?

A variety of factors may cause you to develop itchy hives. Common causes include:

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease
  • Cold temperatures
  • Emotional distress, such as anger
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Extreme heat caused by factors such as exercise or a hot bath
  • Infection
  • Prolonged pressure to the skin
  • Scratching or rubbing the skin

Addressing the Issue

Sometimes the appearance of hives is due to an obvious reason, such as eating an item to which you are allergic. However, you need help from a healthcare provider to identify the cause of your hives. Once you find out what causes the condition, you can develop an effective treatment and prevention plan.

To diagnose your hives, your provider may conduct:

  • Blood tests
  • Skin tests
  • Urine tests

Your provider may also ask you to follow a habits-based examination involving the foods you eat or the medications you take. By controlling your intake of certain things and monitoring your physical health when foods or medicines are introduced, your provider can narrow down whether certain factors are causing your hives. It is important to conduct this type of examination under the supervision of your healthcare provider in case a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis occurs.

Depending on the cause of your hives, your provider may recommend treatment with antihistamines or steroids.

Cyclosporin, a medication traditionally used for kidney transplants and psoriasis, may also be effective in the case of severe hives. Other nontraditional solutions include anti-inflammatory antibiotics, asthma medication and blood pressure medicine.

The providers at River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department can investigate the source of minor skin issues, including hives. Learn more about the conditions we treat.

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