Hives (Urticaria)

What is hives (urticaria)?

Urticaria is a common skin condition also known as “Hives”. It is an itchy rash that can occur at any age. It usually appears as a rash with red raised bumps in various shapes and sizes and can last from a few minutes to a few hours. The swelling that sometimes goes along with urticaria is known as “angioedema”. It often involves the swelling of lips, eyelids, hands, and feet.

What are the causes?

There is no single cause for urticaria. Although studies point to an autoimmune cause for chronic urticaria, where immune cells target the mast cells, causing release of histamines in the body.

Possible causes include:

  • Allergies:
    • Food such as nuts, eggs, shellfish, etc
    • Insect bites and stings
    • Medicines like penicillin, aspirin, painkillers, etc
  • Viral infections
  • Physical stimuli like pressure on the skin, exercise, cold temperature, and sunlight
Possible hive causes - food allergens
Possible hive causes - insect bites and stings

Treatment options include:

  • Avoidance of allergens if due to allergy.
  • Avoid getting overtired or stressed.
  • Oral medications like anti-histamines relieve itching and suppress the “hives” when symptoms appear. In severe cases, short courses of steroids may be prescribed. A newer medication known as a biologic, given as an injection, may also be prescribed.

Living with urticaria:

  • Learn to cope with stress.
  • Take care of yourself. Have plenty of rest.
  • Take your medication regularly and follow the doctor’s recommended treatment plan.
Stress management and rest to manage your hive conditions

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Make an appointment online or contact a Raffles Skin & Aesthetics' clinic near you to consult a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. To make an appointment, select "Specialist Appointment". Under Specialist Appointment Details, select "Anti-ageing""Dermatology" or "Plastic Surgery".

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