Managing Urticaria (Hives)

Known as Urticaria or nettle rash, Hives affects approximately 20% of the population during their lifetime. This is a red itchy skin rash that generally occurs because of an allergic reaction. When the allergen enters the body, there is an allergic reaction which releases histamine. When the protein histamine is released, capillaries in human body leak fluid, which further accumulates in the skin thus causing a rash. 


The rash appears for no longer than 6 to 12 hours while changing its size rapidly. This medical condition can be triggered by a variety of substances giving rise to mild to severe itching. While most of the cases go unnoticed, hives are treated for patients in Manhattan, Brooklyn and throughout the New York City area. 


Causes of Hives Hive results from an allergic reaction and is generally caused by the release of protein histamine. This is a very common disease which can be treated on its own. The release of histamine causes the blood vessel to dilate thus releasing fluid in the surrounding tissues. The leaked fluid irritates nerve ending thus resulting in dizziness, severe reaction or itching. 


Hive can be triggered by: 

  • Insect bite 
  • Certain type of food 
  • Extreme temperature conditions 
  • Contact with irritants 
  • Sunlight 
  • Medicines which are used to treat hypertension or pain 
  • Blood transfusion 
  • Viral and bacterial infection 

These are imprecise causes of hives as the main cause of this medical condition has yet not been found. 


Hives Symptoms Swelling, redness and itching are the most prominent sign of hives. Usually, a patient may experience red or pink round rashes on the skin which vary from few millimeters to several inches. The swelling usually occurs in batches and is more prominent on the face, fingers, toes, hands, arms, legs and feet. 


During the first few hours, a patient may not experience any sign or symptoms. However, if the condition persists, the signs may become more prominent and thus require doctor intervention. Here, it must be remembered that hives are not life threatening. 


Types of Hives Urticaria falls into two categories: 

  • Acute hive The most common type amongst the two, acute hive symptoms lasts less than 6 weeks. Approximately 25% of patients suffering from acute hive also experience angioedema which is a disease that causes swelling in the skin’s deep layers. 
  • Chronic hive The long term hive or the chronic hive occurs in about 1 in every 1000 people. If the hive symptoms continue for more than 6 weeks, dermatologists call it as a chronic hive. While the real cause of chronic hive has yet not been determined, people often agree that it is associated with the immune system. 

Hive or Angioedema Hive and angioedema are often confused or associated with each other. Mile the symptoms of angioedema include swelling of tissue beneath the skin surface, hives result because of an allergic reaction. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, it may sign toward angioedema. Swelling of throats hands or feet, breathing difficulty, swelling in eyes, stomach cramps 


Hive Diagnosis A dermatologist can easily help a patient to diagnosis hive. While in some cases the cause of allergy is obvious, in others it may take some time. The physician may need to do some detective work to find out the possible cause. 


If you are experiencing a food allergy, it is essential to keep a track of food items you are eating. Keeping a track will help you discover whether or not there is a link between the food you are eating and allergic reactions. If you believe that the allergic reaction is caused because of a medicine, you should list all the medicines you’ve been taking, 


Hive Treatment The main motive behind hive treatment is to relieve the patient of the symptoms. With the symptoms generally varying from mild to severe, it can cause great discomfort. Moreover, if you are not experiencing a major problem, the doctor may not prescribe you a medicine. 


However, if you are experiencing severe symptoms, the doctor will advise you to take antihistamines. These medicines block the effect of histamine, thus reducing symptoms. The antihistamine does not make the patient drowsy and very less number of patients will discover any side effect. 


Pregnant women must remember not to take antihistamine without consulting their doctor. A patient suffering from chronic hive undergoes treatment which aims at avoiding triggers. Patients suffering from chronic hives should consult a dermatologist, immunologist or an allergist. 


Severely affected patients should try out different relaxation techniques to reduce stress level. Reducing stress may help avoid triggers. Moreover, certain foods can also worsen a patient symptom; therefore, it is important to know which food caused a trigger. Try to avoid eating a tomato, chocolates, spinach, strawberries, fish, processed meat and yoghurt if you are allergic to them. 


Things to keep in mind A patient suffering from hives should avoid hot baths and should refrain from indulging in heavy exercise, during bed time. Staying cool will help the patient to stay comfortable. A person suffering from hives should also avoid wearing tight fitting clothes made from harsh fabric such as wool as it may worsen the situation. 


You should also avoid rubbing the skin vigorously with a towel and keep it moisturized to decrease the amount of friction. A patient can even choose to apply an ice pack to avoid itching. It is important not to take any medicine without consulting a doctor as unsupervised medication can prove to be harmful as it will only worsen the condition. A patient can even apply an anti-itch lotion to reduce itching. 


So if you have been diagnosed with the hive, the best way to treat it is to avoid or eliminate the trigger. a Wear protective clothing o Avoid food that enhances the symptoms o Avoid harsh soap o Avoid eating food that trigger infection o Notify your doctor if you are experiencing any specific reaction