Hives

Hives, which is also known as urticaria, is a condition in which itchy welts transiently develop over the skin as an immune response to an allergen, infection, illness, or another trigger. Hives can be as small as a pencil eraser or can grow to several inches in diameter or larger. Typically, hives subside on their own within a few minutes to hours, but hives that persist for several days or weeks should be evaluated by a dermatologist. At Arlington Dermatology, a board-certified dermatologist is here to help you and can help narrow down the cause of your hives and create a tailored treatment plan so you can find relief quickly.

Table of Contents

What Causes Hives?

urticaria on skin. rashes, of which urticaria and toxic erythema are the most common.

Hives can occasionally be a result of an allergic reaction. Some common allergens that can cause hives are:

  • Food allergens
  • Medication
  • Animal dander
  • Pollen
  • Insect bites or stings
  • Materials including latex or certain metals

In addition to allergies, hives may be caused by:

  • Infections (including viral colds or bacterial and fungal infection)
  • Illnesses (including lupus, thyroid disease, etc.)
  • Stress
  • Scratching or excessive pressure to the skin
  • Exposure to sun, heat, cold, or water
  • Exercise

Who Gets Hives?

Anyone can develop hives. It is quite common; an estimated 1 in 5 individuals develop hives at some point in their lives as either children or adults. Hives tend to be more common in women with a female to male ratio of approximately 2:1. There also appears to be a genetic factor involved and thus if you have a family history of hives you may be more likely to develop them yourself.

How Can I Prevent Hives?

The best way to prevent hives to avoid your known triggers or allergens, however, this is not always simple or possible. Medication, either prescription or over-the-counter, can also help prevent, improve, or possibly resolve your hives. Your dermatologist may also suggest that you try another allergy treatment such as allergy shots to improve your hives if they are secondary to a specific allergen. 

Why Treat Hives?

Hives can be irritating, itchy, or even painful depending on their size or severity. Without an exam from a board-certified dermatologist, you might also have trouble determining a cause for your hives. Hives that don’t subside on their own within a few days can be difficult to treat at home, and you should see a dermatologist rather than suffer through days, weeks, or months of itching and discomfort. 

How Can I Treat Hives?

Urticaria or hives on the human back

The exact treatment plan your dermatologist will recommend to treat hives varies depending on their cause and severity. Some common treatments include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Xolair
  • Montelukast

Schedule an Appointment 

If you’re dealing with hives, a dermatologist can help you. Hives are a common condition that the board-certified dermatologists at Arlington Dermatology are experienced in treating, and your treatment plan will be developed specifically to relieve your symptoms and address your concerns. 

To schedule an appointment at Arlington Dermatology, please call our office or contact us online.