Itchy skin can result from a multitude of factors and not all of them are hives. Some rashes and skin irritations that are not hives can still cause itchiness. Hives are a specific kind of welts that appear on the skin and are caused by allergies or another adverse reaction. Doctors sometimes refer to hives as urticaria. They may last for anywhere from a couple of minutes to a few days, and can sometimes signify more serious conditions, particularly if accompanied by other factors like respiratory problems.
Angioedema is another form of reaction which can occur along with hives and can be life threatening. This subdermal swelling can affect the eyes, lips, hands, feet, genitalia, and sometimes can cause the throat to swell up, causing difficulty breathing. This can be an indication of an anaphylactic reaction that needs immediate treatment via an epinephrine pen and emergency services.
Hives are caused when the immune system overreacts to a substance, releasing histamine and causing an allergic reaction. Some of the most common triggers for hives include:
The best way to treat hives is to avoid the triggering substance. Topical or ingested steroids or antihistamines can help treat the symptoms once they manifest. At home, keeping the skin surface cool with compresses, cloths and wearing lightweight and loose-fitting clothing can help to keep the irritation limited. Dr. Blessing-Moore and Dr. Maskatia treat many patients throughout San Mateo and Palo Alto, California who suffer from hives by providing individualized treatment plans.