Hives, or welts, affect one fifth of the population sometime during their lives. Urticaria, better known as hives, are red, itchy blotches of the skin. Angioedema is the actual swelling of the skin and usually affects the hand, feet, waist, eyelids, lips and occasionally, the tongue. Both these conditions are caused by the same process.
There is evidence that urticaria and angioedema are caused by histamine release into the skin which cause itching and subsequent swelling.
Two forms of urticaria and angiodema
Acute– present less than six weeks
Chronic– present greater than six weeks
Hives are self-limited
In most people, the hives are self-limited lasting only for a few weeks. In these self-limited cases, the hives and angioedema can be caused by a food, medication, insect sting, or a virus.
Chronic hives cause a great deal of suffering
Chronic hives are a vexing problem for both the patient and the provider. In most patients, chronic urticaria has a significant impact on quality of life, impacting sleep, work performance, and social interactions. The reason for these hives can be illusive and the cause is unknown in about 95% of chronic hive cases.
Ruling out an obvious cause is the first step. An allergist can help
It is important to determine if any underlying disease is present (e.g. thyroid problems, liver problems, skin diseases, kidney problem) or if there is an allergic cause (i.e. a reaction to a drug, insect, food, that is not obvious). A board-certified allergist can accomplish this with a good history and physical exam, as well as a few blood tests.
Treatment for Hives is Possible
Theboard-certified allergistsat The Allergy Group have specialized training and experience in helping you live better free of hives. There are various treatment regimens to help, and more and more are being newly discovered. Omalizumab (Xolair) is the most recent and usually safe treatment approved for chronic urticaria and angioedema. The patient must work closely with their allergist to find a medication regimen that suppresses the hives until they resolve.
The Allergy Group – Friendly, capable and experienced
Our team of physicians and healthcare professionals at The Allergy Group are highly experienced and trained to provide you with the best care. We are committed to your personal healthcare.