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  Shelby Leith   May 12, 2017   Allergies, Allergy 0 Comments

Understanding hives

Velocity Care in Louisiana and Arkansas explores the causes and symptoms of this uncomfortable skin condition

An example of the hives on an arm.

What are hives?

Hives, also known as urticaria, are an uncomfortable condition that appear on the skin. Red, raised welts are the characteristic sign of hives, and each of these individual welts usually lasts no longer than six to 12 hours, causing the rash to constantly change appearance, shape and sometimes location on the body. Hives usually come on quite suddenly and can last anywhere from a few days up to a week.

What causes hives?

This condition occurs when the body comes into contact with a substance that it mistakenly identifies as harmful. In response, the body releases a chemical called histamines. Hives appear when blood plasma leaks out of the tiny blood vessels along the top of the skin, as a response to the histamine release, and form the red welts associated with this condition. Reactions to food, animals, chemicals, medications and insect stings can all cause hives to form as can exposure to the sun and high levels of stress.

What are the symptoms of hives?

Hives usually appear quite suddenly and can appear on any area of the body. They’re characterized by raised, pale-red bumps that join together into larger welts, known as plaques. Hives can often be very itchy or they may sting or burn.

What can I do to treat hives at home?

If you or a loved one breaks out with hives, the first thing that you should do is try to identify what has caused the outbreak. Sometimes this is very easy, and in some cases, it may be very difficult to determine. If you’re able to identify the cause, you should stop exposure to it immediately. An over-the-counter antihistamine helps to reduce the symptoms; topical corticosteroid creams, oatmeal baths and cold compresses may also bring relief.

When should I visit my doctor?

If your condition lasts longer than a week or is causing very severe symptoms, then it’s time to visit your doctor. A trip to the urgent care clinic is also in order if you experience hives along with swelling of the face, lips or tongue, have difficulty breathing or are dizzy and feeling nauseous.

If you or a loved one is experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of hives, visit your local Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center in Little Rock, Arkansas; Shreveport, Louisiana; or Natchitoches, Louisiana. Our trained staff will determine what caused your condition and provide the best treatment options available. To find the walk-in clinic closest to you, visit our website today.

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Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo

Medical disclaimer

This site offers medical, health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. General information found on this website is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your health care professional.  If reading after hours, one option for treatment is to seek an urgent care or  walk-in clinic for medical advice. 

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