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Diseases » Hives » Introduction


Hives: Introduction

Hives are a common condition in which itchy, red lumps and bumps (wheals) form on the skin. Hive are also called uticaria.

Hives are usually caused by a mild allergic reaction, but they can also be caused by a rare but severe allergic reaction called an anaphylactic reaction. Very rarely, hives can be caused by an autoimmune disorder called lupus. For more information on causes, refer to causes of hives.

Hives can appear anywhere on the body and can be round or oval in shape. Hives can also be irregularly shaped lumpy patches that join together to cover large areas of skin. Hives can be red or pink in color. They can also have a pale center with redness on the edges of the hives. The area of the body affected by hives is generally very itchy.

Symptoms that can accompany hives due to an allergic reaction include sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, sinus pressure, and headache. A severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic reaction) can result in swelling of the throat, mouth, and lips, and shortness of breath.

Symptoms that can accompany hives due to lupus include a butterfly shaped rash on the face, fever, seizures, anemia, photophobia, painful, swollen joints, hair loss, lesions in the mouth or nose, and inflammation of the lungs.

Making a diagnosis of hives and their underlying cause includes performing a complete evaluation that includes a medical and allergy history and physical examination.

If it is suspected that hives may be caused by an allergy, diagnostic testing may include skin patch testing. In a skin patch test, small amounts of common allergens are applied methodically to the skin to determine what substances are triggering an allergic response. A blood test called a radioallergosorbent test (RAST) may also be done to help identify the substances that are causing certain allergies. For suspected food allergies, a patient may also be asked to keep a log to record the types of foods that trigger the appearance of hives.

If it is suspected that hives may be caused by lupus, diagnostic testing includes a performing a variety of blood tests in order to detect the presence of autoantibodies, which are found in the body with lupus and other autoimmune diseases.

It is very possible that a diagnosis of hives can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be similar to other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of hives.

Patient compliance with a good treatment plan can control hives due to allergies to a degree that allows a person to live a normal active life. Treatment may include a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and other measures. Treatment of hives due to lupus also includes a variety of therapies. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of hives. ...more »

Hives: Each year about 15% of all Americans experience hives on the skin or angioedema (swelling of the throat tissues) due to allergic reactions. Hives are an allergic ... more about Hives.

Hives: Weals on the skin due to an allergic reaction. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Hives is available below.

Hives: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for hives uses a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans are also individualized to best address the specific cause and severity of the hives, and the patient's age and medical history. In general, hives are treatable, although they are not curable.

Treatment of hives that are caused by allergies begins with prevention. This includes diagnosing the ...more treatments »

Hives: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of hives may be overlooked or delayed because symptoms may be mild in some people and/or may not occur very often. In addition, the appearance of the red, swollen hives on the skin can be similar to symptoms of other conditions, such as a keloid, flea bites, poison ivy, and contact dermatitis.

Hives and the allergy or lupus that causes them can be difficult ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Hives

Treatments for Hives

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Hives:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Hives?

Hives: Related Patient Stories

Alternative Treatments for Hives

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Hives may include:

Hives: Complications

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Causes of Hives

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Disease Topics Related To Hives

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Hives:

Hives: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Hives

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Hives: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Hives

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Hives:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Hives, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Latest Treatments for Hives

Hives: Animations

Prognosis for Hives

Statistics for Hives

Hives: Broader Related Topics

Hives Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

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Article Excerpts about Hives

Each year about 15% of all Americans experience hives on the skin or angioedema (swelling of the throat tissues) due to allergic reactions. Hives are an allergic reaction often due to food or plants. The reaction is characterized by a raised, itchy area of skin. It can be rounded or flat-topped, but it is always elevated above the surrounding skin. (Source: excerpt from Allergies: NWHIC)

Definitions of Hives:

An itchy skin eruption characterized by weals with pale interiors and well-defined red margins; usually the result of an allergic response to insect bites or food or drugs. - (Source - Diseases Database)

An itchy skin eruption characterized by weals with pale interiors and well-defined red margins; usually the result of an allergic response to insect bites or food or drugs - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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