Hives are outbreaks of swollen rashes that appear on the surface of the skin. They usually appear red and bumpy. Hives are caused because of various reasons. The rash that is marked by hives can be extremely itchy and spread across large areas of someone’s body. They may also burn and sting. They can appear anywhere on the body including the ears, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes. Hives vary in size and shape. Multiple hives may join to cover a larger area which is known as plaque. They ordinarily last a couple of days and leave no enduring skin changes. About 20 percent of people are affected at some time in their life. Hives are also known as urticaria. Hives are not contagious in nature.

There are several types of hives-

  1. Acute urticaria- Acute urticaria lasts less than six weeks. It occurs because of an adverse or allergic reaction to certain foods, medications, and insect bites. Various infections may also be responsible for acute urticaria. Acute urticaria occurs equally in males and females and is more common among children. The cause of acute urticaria is usually identified easily.
  2. Chronic urticaria- Chronic urticaria last more than six weeks. Unlike acute urticaria, the cause is usually more difficult to identify. However, in some cases, chronic urticaria may be caused by an underlying medical condition such as cancer, infection, thyroid disease, or hepatitis. This is a more severe form of hives as compared to acute urticaria. It can spread to different areas of the body such as the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and muscles. Ongoing urticaria is more normal in moderately aged females.
  3. Physical urticaria- Physical urticaria is caused by irritation caused due to external factors. External factors like extreme heat or cold, excessive sweating or overexposure to the sun may cause this type of urticaria. Dermatographia is a form of physical urticaria where hives are formed because of scratching or firm stroking of the skin.

Hives happen when the body responds to an allergen. As a reaction, our body releases high levels of histamine and other chemical messengers into the skin. In response to this histamine, blood vessels in the affected area open and start to leak the resulting fluid into the tissue. This causes swelling and itchiness in the affected area. Many different substances in the environment can trigger a hive outbreak. Some common triggers include food such as nuts, wheat products, eggs, strawberries, shellfish, and food additives. Physical stimuli such as pressure, cold, heat, sun exposure, or exercise trigger hives. Medications such as codeine, ibuprofen, penicillin, and ace inhibitors that are used for high blood pressure also cause hives. Other triggers include dust mites, high body temperature, pollen, insect bites, and stings, scratching. Infections such as flu common, cold, Hepatitis B, and stress may also be the factors causing hives. Other underlying triggers such as latex and water on the skin are rare. Hives can also be triggered by pet dander from cats and dogs.

Symptoms- Hives are characterized by raised itchy bumps that are usually red or pink. It is also characterized by rashes that appear often in several areas on the skin. These rashes may go away in a matter of minutes to hours and reappear elsewhere. Hives may cause extreme irritation which may interfere with your daily chores. The rashes may have a slight burning sensation.

Diagnosis and Treatment- Dermatology Doctors at even the best skin clinic in Kochi, one of the best locations for treatment in India, will ask a series of questions to find the possible cause of hives. The specialist will inspect the knocks or rash in the event that they are as yet present and take a cautious clinical history to recognize the conceivable reason for sensitivity. Skin tests may be performed to determine the substance to which the patient is allergic. Skin hospitals in Kochi are well known for treating hives.The doctor may also order a blood test. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms while the condition resolves by itself. Antihistamine is usually prescribed to provide relief from symptoms. They are taken regularly for several weeks. They help by obstructing the impacts of receptors. Constant urticaria can be treated with an allergy med or a blend of prescriptions. When antihistamines don’t provide relief, oral doxepin may be prescribed. Methotrexate can also treat chronic urticaria and is best suitable for an Indian setting. It is a cheap and most viable option for dermatologists. In some cases, using home remedies such as applying a cold damp cloth to the affected area, wearing loose-fitting lightweight clothes or working and sleeping in a cool room can help.