Hives are characterized as itchy red, raised welts (also known as wheals) on the skin’s surface that can spread or join together and form larger areas of raised lesions. Typically they are triggered by exposure to an allergen or chemical irritant. They usually appear suddenly and will often disappear equally as suddenly.
Hives are usually an allergic reaction to food, medicine or animals. They can also be triggered by sun exposure, stress, excessive perspiration or other, more serious diseases, such as lupus. Anyone can get hives. They are harmless and not contagious. Hives can itch, burn or sting. The good news is that they rarely need medical attention as usually disappear on their own. However, in persistent cases, your dermatologist may prescribe antihistamines or oral corticosteroids. The most effective way to prevent hives is to discontinue exposure to the allergen that is causing the irritation.
Hives lasting more than six weeks are known as chronic urticaria. However, if there is swelling below the surface of the skin, they are known as angioedema. There are no known causes of angioedema, but it can affect internal organs.