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Hives are raised, often itchy red welts on the surface of the skin. They can be an allergic reaction to food, medicine, or other substance.
Hives are very common, especially in people who have experienced other allergic reactions, like hay fever, and are sometimes hereditary. When you have an allergic reaction to any substance, histamine and other chemicals are released into your bloodstream. These chemicals cause itching, swelling, hives, and other symptoms.
When swelling or welts occur around the face, especially the lips and eyes, it is called angioedema; swelling from angioedema can also occur around your hands, feet, and throat.
Many substances can trigger an allergic response resulting in hives, such as:
Infection (like mononucleosis) or illness (including
lupus and other autoimmune diseases, leukemia, and others)
Signs and tests
Your doctor can tell if you have hives by the appearance of your skin. If you have a history of an allergy, then the diagnosis is even more obvious. Occasionally, skin or blood tests are performed to confirm that this was an allergic reaction and to test for the substance that caused your allergic response.
Treatment may not be needed if hives are mild. They may disappear on their own. Some steps that you can take to reduce itching and swelling include:
Apply cool compresses to the part of your body with
welts. This may reduce swelling and pain. If a large part of your
body is affected, soak in a cool bath. Avoid hot baths or showers.
Hives may be uncomfortable, but they generally are harmless and disappear on their own. In most cases, the exact cause of hives cannot be identified.
Call your local emergency number (such as 911) if you experience any of the following:
Tightness in your throat
Avoid exposure to substances that give you allergic
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