Skin hives are actually extremely common. they are so common in fact that it’s been estimated that roughly 1 out of 5 people will experience the development and symptoms of hives at least once during their lifespan.
This is a skin condition that really packs a punch, and it’s true medical name is urticaria. From here there are some things that are important to address. For instance, people will either experience 1 of 2 forms of urticaria (hives). there is either acute, meaning that it is temporary and will not last longer on average for more than 6 weeks. Acute urticaria can be so short as to only last for a few hours. however, if you have noticed your hives have been around for longer than 6 weeks, then you probably have chronic urticaria, which can last anywhere from a couple of months up to several years.
In both cases of chronic and acute hives, the symptoms and physically noticeable spots (known as wheals or welts) can disappear from one part of the body and reappear on another. during chronic urticaria, it’s very common for a hives patient to experience an intense outbreak that can last for a varying range of time, and then have the urticaria completely clear up on it’s own, only to reappear some time later. For chronic urticaria sufferers it’s very frustrating, because it can be a question of when is it going to return?.
Earlier I had mentioned the spots that itch and are noticeable with hives. These are commonly referred to as ‘wheals’ or ‘welts’. they can vary in size. Some might be as small as a few centimeters, while others may be as large as several inches. Typically these spots will have a whitened or blanched center, with obvious redness or inflammation around the edges. the main symptom is that they itch very intensely.
Is there any swelling that you notice along with your hives? if so, the correct term for this is angioedema. Allergists have explained that angioedema is deeper tissue swelling that many times can also accompany urticaria.
Hives are not believed to be life threatening, but the wheals can pop up on any part of the body. the genitals, arms, legs, torso, buttocks, back and face are very common. although hives are not regarded as life threatening, there are two things that you should first know.
1. the swelling known as angioedema can commonly affect the face and mouth. This will cause your appearance to look puffy. your eyes can swell along with your lips. the danger is that this angioedema can also occur within the throat, which could potentially constrict your airflow. if you are having difficulty breathing and are feeling dizzy or lightheaded – then you may need emergency medical attention.
2. In some cases urticaria can actually be a sign that you have something a little more troubling going on. without scaring you, I mean to say that many cases have been known to show that the symptoms of hives are actually the result of an underlying auto-immune disorder. Requesting testing involving some basic blood work can shed a lot of light on this.
What Causes Hives?
It would be unfair to say exactly what causes urticaria, and here is why. unfortunately, most chronic urticaria (long term hives) patients experience what is known as idiopathic urticaria. Idiopathic in the medical community means that the source of a problem is unknown.
This is partly because many elements have been known to cause urticaria in people, and finding out the root cause is often times a process of elimination. This can take a very long time, and leave both health care professionals and the patient frustrated. This also requires that the patient work closely with their doctor, to document their hives outbreaks every step of the way.
Common Triggers Of Urticaria
There can be many, but here are a few.
a) certain medications
b) food allergies
d) stings and bites from insects
e) gluten intolerance
Now, there are different forms of urticaria. most of these are extremely rare. their is aquagenic urticaria, which is caused by a reaction to water or liquids, heat and solar urticaria – a reaction to temperature or sunlight. there is also exercise induced hives, which is pretty self explanatory.
How Are Hives Treated?
Hives treatment can be very unreliable. a healthcare professional and the patient can only hope for the best. In some cases the hives can clear up on their own, but in many cases this will not happen. Typically an over the counter anti-histamine is prescribed, but many patients don’t like to use these because of the side effects, most notably – drowsiness.
Although we can’t always pinpoint the exact cause of urticaria, the process is pretty simple. something causes the mast cells, which can be thought of as ‘allergy cells’ to release an incredible amount of histamine. Histamine is what causes you to itch when you come into contact with poison ivy, develop a runny nose from pollen allergies, etc. It’s your body’s first line of defense, but for some unknown reason – urticaria causes people
to produce a lot of histamine, which then causes blood plasma leakage in the affected areas.
This plasma leakage usually leads to the redness, irritation and itchy welts as well as angioedema. Basically, what is supposed to be a helpful process ends up working in over time, and actually ends up sabotaging your body.
Are there other Ways To Treat Urticaria?
Yes, although this can be hit and miss. Some of the best ways are to take a good look at your diet, eliminate potential triggers of urticaria, start using a diet that can boost your immune system, eliminate junk foods and beverages from your eating habits, drink lots of water and load up on key supplements that are known to help
There are also many home remedies that can help with the itching. These range from using primrose oil on the welts to taking oatmeal baths. the problem is that while one remedy might work one individual, it may not for another.
The key I believe is to focus on strengthening your immune system and improve your overall health. Urticaria can be a sign that things just aren’t right with your body. This is why looking into testing for an auto-immune disorder is also important.
There are also herbs that have been known to help, but because most supplements and herbal remedies are not monitored by the FDA, there really aren’t enough studies being done or conclusive evidence. that doesn’t mean that they can’t work though.