Hives is a skin condition characterized by itchy patches. The color, the size, the shape and the persistence of these rashes can vary greatly from case to case.  Depending on the situation it can be localized on the face, trunk, arms or legs and be associated with swelling. The situation is called chronic when the patches remain for more than 6 weeks or recur cyclically at a distance of months or even years.


The cause of hives is often not easily identifiable. Sometimes it is associated with a disease, such as lupus erythematosus or a thyroid disorder. Other times the problem is provoked by drugs (such as painkillers), from insects or parasites, infection, heat or cold, stress, sunlight, taking certain foods, alcohol or food additives or even by physical activity. In all cases, the event characterizing the hives is a histamine release in the blood and other molecules that are manifested externally with the rash.


What kind of diseases can be associated with hives?

The following diseases may be associated with hives are the following:


  • Food allergy
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus


Remember that this is not an exhaustive list and it is highly recommended to consult your doctor, in case of symptom’s persistence.


What is the therapy for hives?

In case of hives, you can try different remedies to alleviate and counteract the appearance of the symptoms. It would be good to wear comfortable clothing and not use aggressive detergents. Also you should refresh the skin affected by the outburst with running water or a soothing lotion. The best solutions, however, is to identify the agent that triggers the hives and try to remedy or avoid certain behaviors.


In some cases it may be useful to take antihistamines and medication against the itching. In other can, instead, drug therapy can be a more effective (for example based on corticosteroids or antidepressants) which can be only prescribed by the doctor. In particular, if the rash is associated to a disease, the most suitable treatment is targeted against the disease.


When is most likely to contact your doctor in case of hives?

If the problem is particularly serious, if the body does not respond to treatment or if persists for several days.


You should go directly to the emergency room if the rashes are associated with dizziness, discomfort in the chest, trouble breathing, or if the tongue or throat swell.