What are hives?

Hives, also known as urticaria, is a skin rash characterized by raised, itchy, red or white bumps or welts that appear on the skin. Hives can occur anywhere on the body and may be small or large, and may come and go quickly.


Who's at risk for hives?

Anyone can develop hives, but certain populations may be at higher risk, including:

  • People with a history of allergies or allergic reactions
  • People with a family history of hives or other allergic conditions
  • Women, especially during pregnancy or after giving birth
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune diseases or thyroid disorders


What causes hives?

Hives can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Allergies to certain foods, medications, or substances
  • Infections, such as viral infections or parasitic infections
  • Exposure to heat, cold, or pressure
  • Stress or emotional upset
  • Exercise
  • Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune diseases or thyroid disorders


How do hives start?

Hives may start suddenly and appear as small bumps on the skin that rapidly expand and merge together. The bumps may be accompanied by itching or burning sensations.


What are the symptoms of hives?

The symptoms of hives may include:

  • Raised, itchy, red or white bumps on the skin
  • Swelling
  • Burning or stinging sensations
  • Angioedema, or swelling of the face, lips, or tongue


How are hives diagnosed?

Diagnosing hives typically involves a physical examination and a review of the person's medical history and symptoms. In some cases, additional tests, such as blood tests or allergy tests, may be done to help identify any underlying causes.


How can hives be treated?

Treatment for hives typically involves avoiding triggers that may cause hives and using medications to relieve symptoms, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids. In severe cases, epinephrine injections may be used to help prevent anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.


What complications may occur with hives?

Complications of hives may include:

  • Angioedema, or swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction
  • Emotional distress or anxiety related to the appearance of the rash


How can I prevent hives?

Preventing hives may involve identifying and avoiding triggers that may cause hives, such as certain foods, medications, or substances. It may also be helpful to manage stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Long-term management of hives

People with hives may require ongoing medical care and monitoring to manage their condition and prevent future outbreaks. This may involve avoiding triggers that may cause hives, using medications to relieve symptoms, and seeking medical help if symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop.


What is recent research saying about hives?

Recent research in hives has focused on improving diagnosis and treatment of the condition, as well as identifying new triggers and risk factors. Some of the promising areas of research include:

  • Investigation of the impact of stress on the development of hives and other allergic conditions
  • Exploration of new medications and therapies for treating hives, including biologic medications that target specific immune cells involved in the development of hives
  • Identification of new triggers for hives, such as certain medications or chemicals in the environment


Where can I go for more information on hives?

If you or someone you know has hives or wants more information on the condition, it is important to seek help from a healthcare provider who specializes in the treatment of skin conditions. The following organizations also provide information and resources on hives: