Hives, also known as urticaria, are raised bumps, welts, or rashy areas on your skin that occur as a reaction to something you touched, inhaled, or ate. They can appear suddenly, out of nowhere, and you may not even know why you got them.
You also may get hives from time to time, perhaps as a result of an allergy that you know you have, such as to pet dander or seafood. In addition to their appearance on your skin, hives may cause symptoms such as itching, stinging, and burning.
Usually hives fade on their own within a day. Acute, but limited, cases can last for up to six weeks. You’re considered to have chronic urticaria if you break out in hives at least twice a week for more than six weeks.
Catherine Fuller, MD, is an expert allergist and immunologist in West Los Angeles, California. If your hives fade quickly and don’t recur, you probably don’t need medical treatment. But what if your hives are uncomfortable? Or what if they keep coming back? Here’s how Dr. Fuller can help.
Get immediate relief
Even hives that will ultimately fade within a day or two can be extremely uncomfortable. They sometimes collect together in large masses called plaques.
If you’re uncomfortable with hives, you don’t have to wait 24 hours or six weeks to get relief. You can try at-home treatments, such as:
- Applying cool compresses to hives or plaques
- Taking a cool shower or bath
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing
- Applying an antihistamine or corticosteroid cream
If these measures don’t help, Dr. Fuller may prescribe oral prednisone.
Find out why
About 20% of women, men, and children in the United States get at least one case of hives in their lifetime. An unfortunate and uncomfortable 1%-3% develop chronic hives.
If you have chronic hives, treating the itch and burn at home may be not enough to get relief, because it’s only a matter of time until the next attack. In such cases, our team recommends testing for allergies so you can identify all of the substances that may be provoking your hives.
How to deal with allergens
Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can try to minimize exposure to those allergens to cut down on the number of flare-ups. However, when you’re allergic to common substances, such as pollen and pet dander, avoiding triggers may be difficult or even impossible.
In such cases, you can opt for immunotherapy. This effective approach to treating allergies exposes you to minute amounts of your main triggers. As your body develops tolerance to the small amounts, we gradually increase them until you can be exposed to the allergen without a reaction.
Some hives have no known cause
In some cases, even allergy tests and avoiding common triggers don’t reveal the cause of your hives. If you have chronic hives, we may prescribe Xolair®, a cutting-edge biologic therapy.
You don’t have to put up with hives until they go away, and if you have chronic hives, it’s best to seek treatment with an expert. Get the relief and answers you need by calling Catherine Fuller, MD, today at 310-828-7978 or use our online appointment request form.