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What are hives?

Hives are characteristic skin changes that develop in a form of raised,red and itchy welts covering the surface of the skin. These skin changes most commonly occur due to an allergic reaction either to food or some medications.

Hives may develop suddenly and rapidly. Many times they are distributed on the chest, abdomen and back. extremities can be also affected awhile face is generally spared. One of characteristics of hives is that skin changes come and go over a period of 10-154 minutes and sometimes within few hours.

Hives form different patterns and skin changes vary in size, may be round or shaped, singe or occur in clusters, sometimes even overlapping.

Causes of Hives

There are different causes of hives.

First of all, his skin condition may affect children suffering from certain illnesses. Namely, the body of the ill child may have an allergic reaction to infectious agents responsible for the illness in the first place.

Furthermore, many times people allergic to certain food end up with hives once they consume the problematic foods. Hives are commonly associated with allergy to shellfish, nut, berries and fish.

Allergy to medications is another culprit of hives. Many times people who develop hive should try to recall medication they have used recently because these may be to blame for skin changes.

External irritants are also potential triggers of hives. Anything from soaps and shampoos, over laundry detergent to fabric softeners, as well as new clothes, blankets or bed sheets may cause hives in sensitive individuals.

Finally, in some cases in spite of thorough investigations doctors simply fail to identify the underlying cause of hive, naming the condition idiopathic.

Hives Treatment and Disease Duration

Hives are treated with antihistamines. Since formation of hives is actually triggered by a release of histamine from mast cells, medications such as antihistamines are efficient because they do not allow release of histamine, this ay preventing further formation of hives and improve the appearance of already formed skin changes. Benadryl is over-the-counter antihistamine and it is a drug commonly administered in patients suffering from hives. The best effects are achieved when Benadryl is administers as soon as these skin changes form.

In the majority of cases hives last for 1-2 days. There is a chance for hives to come and go within the period of several weeks. An allergic reaction of the skin may continue even though the contact with an allergen has been discontinued.

Since hives represent an allergic reaction, it is essential to watch for any additional sign that may point to the presence of more complex allergic reaction such as anaphylactic shock. This medical condition typically leads to throat tightness, wheezing, breathing difficulty, drop in blood pressure, extreme weakness and lightheadedness and vomiting. Anaphylactic shock is a medical emergency which requires prompt medical care.

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