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Hives Specialist

Catherine Fuller, MD

Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Specialist located in West Los Angeles, CA

If red, itchy rash splotches appear suddenly on your body, you could have hives. Hives are an allergic reaction to medications, foods, or substances and could be a sign of a life-threatening problem if the rash is accompanied by difficulty breathing. Catherine Fuller, MD, is an allergy, asthma, and immunology specialist treating patients of all ages with hives and allergies at her practice in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Use the online booking feature or call the office to schedule an appointment to diagnose the cause of hives and possible treatment options.

Hives Q & A

Hives are a skin rash triggered by the body’s reaction to viruses, a specific food, irritant, or medication. Swollen red bumps appear on the skin suddenly as a result of exposure to an allergen or sometimes, unknown causes. Hives can last a few hours or several weeks. Angioedema is a more severe form of hives. It has a number of causes, some of which can be genetic. There are advanced biologic therapies to control both hives and angioedema.

What causes hives/angioedema?

The body triggers histamine release as an allergic reaction to viruses, certain foods, sunlight, medications, or insect stings. The histamine release causes blood plasma to leak out of tiny blood vessels in the skin, creating the appearance of hives. In angioedema, there can be swelling of the lips, face, or genitals.

The most common foods that cause hives include:

  • Chocolate
  • Tree nuts and seeds
  • Cow’s milk 
  • Egg
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish/shellfish (especially for adults)

Some people experience hives after taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, drugs for high blood pressure, or codeine.

Hives may also be a result of hepatitis, thyroid disease, infections, or cancer.

How are hives/angioedema diagnosed?

Dr. Fuller will take a thorough medical history and review your diet in detail. A food diary is recommended. Tests are ordered to determine if any allergens are the cause. More detailed blood tests can determine if you have other illnesses contributing to or causing your hives.

How are hives/angioedema treated?

The best course of action for hives is to treat the underlying cause or trigger, but this isn’t always possible. Dr. Fuller may prescribe antihistamines for relief of hives symptoms and to prevent them from forming on your skin. 

Dr. Fuller’s treatment philosophy is to use the least amount of medication to control the problem. When the hives or angioedema becomes chronic, and no cause can be found, Dr. Fuller is experienced with a cutting-edge biologic therapy called Xolair. If the problem is angioedema that is uncontrolled, there are a host of both preventive and acute care therapies that can be used.

When should I see a doctor about hives?

If you experience hives regularly and they go away with no other symptoms, you may decide a trip to the doctor is unnecessary. If you experience hives with any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Fuller right away:

  • Diffuse hives causing itching and discomfort
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Tongue, lips, or facial swelling
  • Dizziness

If you’re experiencing hives, call Dr. Fuller or schedule an appointment online to determine their cause and how to prevent them.