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Hives, also known as urticaria, are the pale red bumps that can be itchy and usually appear suddenly. Hives are very common and occur in 20% of population at some point of their lives. Most commonly, hives occur as an adverse reaction to certain allergens. They appear due to release of a chemical called histamine into the skin. Histamine is released from skin cells that lie along blood vessels and it causes the blood vessels to contract allowing the plasma to leak out. Apart from allergic reaction, hives may be caused by medications, insect stings, sun exposure and chemicals in the food, while the reason is sometimes unknown. Common allergens that cause hives are fish, dairy products, nuts, food additives, preservatives, flavorings, penicillin and Aspirin.

Appearance of Hives

Hives are localized, itchy, white or red wheals that can sting or burn. An area of the skin where hives appear usually swell and that is causing itching. Hives may vary in size and shape. They may appear as a large raised area and merge together. They may be red with a pale center. Hives may have round or irregular shape and range in size from few millimeters to size of a dinner plate. They may appear on any skin surface, usually on the trunk, arms and legs but rarely on the palms and soles of the feet. Hives may cover small or large are of the body. Also, hives can rapidly change their size and may disappear in one area of the body and reappear in other area.

There are two types of hives depending on the length of the episode. Acute hives last for couple of hours but less than six weeks while chronic hives last longer.

Treatment for HivesHives usually go away on its own and the treatment aims to relieve the symptoms. Generally, hives are treated with antihistamines. However, symptoms of the condition can be treated in several natural ways. Area covered with hives can be treated by application of aloe vera gel and vitamin E oil. Itching can be relieved with Calamine lotion. To promote healing of hives take cayenne pepper, zinc, vitamin E and vitamin C every day until condition resolves. This can also prevent outbreak of hives if you are prone to it. Herbal teas that have proven helpful in treatment of hives are nettle, valerian, catnip, peppermint, chamomile and passionflower tea. Additionally, you can dry up the hives with a paste made of oatmeal, cornstarch and some water.

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