Anyone can get hives. It’s estimated that about 20% of people develop hives at some point during their lifetime.
The red, itchy welts usually appear suddenly and disappear within a few hours. However, it’s not uncommon for new hives to appear as old ones fade, causing an itchy rash that may last a few days, weeks, or months.
At Associated Skin Care Specialists, our team of board-certified dermatologists specializes in diagnosing hives, finding the underlying cause, and providing treatment to alleviate your symptoms.
When your hives last longer than expected, you may wonder: why me?
About those hives
Hives, also known as urticaria, are a type of rash that causes itchy, raised welts. These welts may vary in size and appear anywhere on the body.
Though your initial rash may disappear, new hives may form. It’s not uncommon for hives to come and go for a few days or a few weeks. In some people, hives may return every day or every few days for months or years.
Hives that last six weeks or less are known as acute hives, while hives that last longer than six weeks are known as chronic hives.
Who gets hives?
Hives are common and can affect anyone. Though researchers are still investigating what causes someone to develop hives, they theorize it may have something to do with your immune system.
You develop hives when something triggers your immune system to release high levels of histamine and other chemicals into your skin, which causes your blood vessels to open up and leak.
Those red itchy welts are the result of the excess fluid that collects under your skin from this reaction.
Why do I have hives?
Histamine is often released by your immune system to protect your body from an allergen, which is a substance your body considers harmful even though it’s not in most people. This immune system reaction may affect any part of your body, including your skin.
Common allergens that trigger hives include:
- Food (citrus fruits, nuts, milk, peanuts)
- Insect stings or bites
- Pet dander
Allergens aren’t the only cause of hives. An infection, underlying health condition, stress, exercise, or the sun may also trigger hives.
When exposed to the trigger, you may develop a reaction within minutes or hours.
In many cases, the exact cause of hives is unknown, especially in people with chronic hives.
For hives, our medical dermatology experts focus on relieving your immediate symptoms and preventing future flare-ups by helping you identify and avoid your hive triggers.
For symptom relief, we prescribe antihistamines or a topical corticosteroid. We also work with you to help identify the allergens or other factors that trigger your hives and design a plan so you can reduce your risk of flare-ups.
We may take a skin biopsy and have the tissue sample evaluated by our dermatopathology team to better understand the underlying cause of your hives.
In most cases, hives aren’t a serious medical issue, but the symptoms can affect your quality of life. Let us help you get relief from your hives.
Call the office nearest you — Blaine, Eden Prairie, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove, New Brighton, or Fridley, Minnesota — or use our new online scheduling tool to make an appointment today. We even offer telemedicine appointments to help manage skin problems.