Hives Treatment In Gainesville, FL
If you have red or skin-colored bumps on your skin that appear and disappear rapidly, then it's unlikely you have bug bites. Instead, this skin rash could be hives, which are raised, red, itchy dots, or welts that appear on the skin. This condition can be triggered by a wide range of substances and circumstances and it often starts as an itchy patch of skin. Should you suspect you have hives or any other skin condition, a dermatologist in Gainesville can help. Our Gainesville dermatology clinic offers comprehensive treatments for a wide range of skin conditions, including hives and chronic hives.
What Are Hives?
Hives, also known as urticaria, welts, weals, or nettle rash, are characterized by itchy, raised, red-colored bumps (welts) or splotches that appear on the surface of the skin. They are sometimes triggered by an allergen or a substance that produces an allergic reaction. Hives can vary in size, from welts as small as the tip of a pen to splotches as large as a dinner plate. In some cases, the welts may combine and form even larger welts called plaques. When large welts occur deeper under the skin, this condition is known as angioedema, which can occur with hives. Hive welts can appear on practically any part of the body containing skin. Hives can appear and fade repeatedly as the reaction runs its course. Hives may be red, pink, or flesh-colored and sting or hurt. In most situations, hives are a temporary (acute) issue that may be controlled using various allergy medications and go away independently. However, chronic cases of hives and hives accompanied by a severe allergic reaction are significant medical concerns and require prompt attention by a medical provider.
What Causes Hives?
Hives are common, and any person can get them at any time. One of the primary hives causes is an allergic reaction to something you have either encountered or swallowed. When your body has an allergic reaction, your body releases histamines into your blood. Histamines are chemicals the body produces while attempting to defend itself from infections and other types of potential intruders. However, histamines can cause symptoms such as swelling, itching, and skin redness in some people, among other symptoms commonly experienced with hives. Hives from allergies can be caused by pollen, medications, foods, animal dander, dust mites, certain plants, and insect bites and stings, among other factors. In addition to allergic reactions, stress hives can be caused by circumstances such as extreme feelings of stress, while heat hives can occur due to excessive exposure to heat. Hives may also occur due to exercise, illnesses, or infections. It is also possible to develop hives due to prolonged exposure to either hot or cold temperatures or from irritation to the skin from excessive sweating. Because several potential triggers may cause hives, it's often difficult to identify the exact cause of the skin reaction.
What Do Hives Look Like?
Hives on skin can be small or large, ring-shaped or oval, and even comprise more random and non-circular shapes. Hives may resemble insect bites in many cases, such as mosquito bites. Hives can be red and inflamed with a red halo surrounding them, but they may also appear as smooth, raised, and flesh-colored bumps or markings on the skin. The markings may become pale and turn white when pressed with a finger before returning to their previous color. Hives may increase in size, merge to form larger plaques, occur in batches or clusters, spread to other areas of the body, or even change in shape and color.
Hive flare-ups can sting, itch, or burn, and they may swell, disappear, and reappear within a short amount of time or as the reaction runs its course. Flare-ups can happen multiple times in a day or over weeks or months. Though hives can appear on all portions of the body, they most commonly develop on the face, neck, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes. However, individuals who develop chronic hives may experience disruptions to their normal habits, such as sleeping comfortably and severe symptoms such as swelling of the lips, eyelids, tongue, and throat that may or may not occur symmetrically on the face or body. This can be quite painful and create a burning sensation.
Individuals with known allergies are more likely to develop hives than those without allergies. Those on medications or those who unknowingly become exposed to substances they may be allergic to are also at risk of developing hives. Additionally, people who are already ill and those with pre-existing infections or health conditions may be more vulnerable to developing hives. Hives can occur anywhere on the body. Seek medical attention immediately if you develop a hives outbreak around your tongue or throat or if you experience trouble breathing. The most common signs of hives include the following: Slightly raised, pink, red, or flesh-colored welts, bumps, or swellings; welts that develop alone or in a group; welts that develop over a large area of the body; skin swelling or bumps that appear and disappear quickly; welts that disappear and reappear on the same or different parts of the body; itchy, swollen bumps or bumps that sting or burn; bumps that are small and round, ring-shaped, or large and in a random shape; and welts that grow larger, change shape, and spread to other parts of the body.
Hives Vs. Rash
Hives and skin rashes may look similar, but they are different. The main difference between hives and a rash is that hives are a particular type of rash. Hives develop and form a rash characterized by swollen and red, pink, or skin-colored bumps on the skin that appear and disappear quickly, and tend to turn white when pressed. Both hives and other rashes tend to produce skin reactions that are inflamed, uncomfortable, and itchy. Like a heat rash (miliaria), hives can produce the feeling of heat on the skin, and they may both be caused by excessive exposure to hot and humid weather. Hives and psoriasis may also have certain characteristics in common, but the two conditions are not the same. Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition in which skin cells rapidly accumulate to form thick skin plaques and lesions, while with hives, bumps are often raised and smooth and appear and disappear suddenly.
Types Of Hives
Hives can occur for a wide range of different reasons. Our Gainesville dermatologists discuss the following types of hives, including acute hives, chronic hives, and physical hives.
Acute hives are characterized by hives or swelling that occurs and lasts for less than six weeks at a time. The primary cause of acute hives, which come on suddenly, is an allergic reaction to certain foods, medications, or other types of substances.
Chronic hives are characterized by hives that linger for more than six weeks. In the vast majority of hives cases considered to be chronic, the exact cause of the hives is unknown, though it is thought to be autoimmune.
Some individuals can develop hives in specific situations. For example, hives may develop on the skin when exposed to cold, heat, or sun. In addition, some individuals develop hives due to vibrations, pressure, exercise, and sweating. These hives typically appear within an hour after exposure.
When a patient has hives, our dermatology specialists of Gainesville can usually diagnose by observing the skin. For most hive cases, however, finding the exact cause of the hives can be challenging. This is particularly true for chronic hives or those present for more than six weeks. To identify the cause of your hives, your dermatologist will review your health history, ask questions, and perform a physical examination of your skin. Our dermatologists may likewise recommend certain tests, such as allergy tests, blood work, and a skin biopsy. During a skin biopsy, your dermatologist removes a tiny piece of the affected skin so that it may be examined closely under a microscope.
For mild-to-moderate hive cases, the most common treatment is a non-sedating antihistamine. Antihistamines relieve symptoms commonly experienced with hives, such as itching. Antihistamines may also be prescribed to treat chronic hives. Other medications your doctor may prescribe include, antihistamines, cortisone, dapsone, omalizumab, and other medicines that target and fight inflammation, redness, and swelling. For most people, hives are not serious. Some individuals with chronic hives see the hives go away on their own within a year, though most patients with chronic cases see their hives come and go for months or even years. However, if your hives remain or become severe, it's important to get prompt medical care.
Are Hives Contagious?
No. Hives are not contagious, meaning you will not develop hives on your skin by coming into contact with a person who has hives. The trigger that causes hives, however, may be contagious. Causes of contagious hives include bacterial infections, viruses, strep throat, and the common cold, among other contagious health conditions.
How Long Do Hives Last?
Certain hive symptoms, such as itching, swelling, and redness, can last from hours to several weeks and months. In some cases, the hives eventually disappear without treatment, though taking doctor-approved medications, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids, can help the hives and the accompanying symptoms dissipate faster. In chronic hive cases, hives last for an extended time, and most often, it is not possible to determine the cause of these hives. Hives may go away spontaneously after weeks or months, though they may come back repeatedly as well.
How To Prevent Hives
If you're experiencing mild hives, these tips may help relieve your symptoms and can help you avoid certain triggers which cause hives to appear. For more information about hives, hive treatments, and any other skin condition, please contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery to schedule a dermatology appointment.
- Avoid hive triggers, including certain foods, medications, pollen, pet dander, latex, and insect stings. If you believe a medication you're taking caused your hives, stop using it and promptly contact your primary medical provider.
- Use over-the-counter anti-itch medications, such as a non-prescription antihistamine, to help relieve itching.
- Apply a cold washcloth to the affected area, covering it completely to help soothe the skin and prevent scratching.
- Take a comfortable, cool bath or shower containing sprinkled-in oatmeal powder for short-term control of symptoms and temporary relief.
- Wear loose, smooth-textured clothing made from 100% cotton. Avoid wearing clothing that is rough on skin, tight, scratchy, or made from wool to help avoid skin irritation.
- Avoid sun exposure when outdoors, as well as heat and humidity, as much as possible.