Hives And Their Causes, Symptoms, Treatments And Prevention

hivesHives - also called urticaria - cause the skin to become red and inflamed, and almost 20% of the people suffer from this disease at least once during their lifetime. Hives are actually large patches that cause itchiness and irritation. They can disappear quickly, but new patches can appear in their place. The patient recovers fully after six weeks or so if a proper treatment plan is followed.

The main cause of hives is probably the bodys reaction to an irritant. This may either have been ingested or was in contact with the skin at some point. As a response to this irritant, the body produces chemicals that cause the skin to become inflamed which leads to irritation. The irritant substance can be anything such as a food, medications, cosmetics, stings and other chemicals. At times, the skin becomes irritated even when the body is exposed to very cold or very hot water. Hives can also develop when the skin comes into contact with metals such as nickel which is found in jewelry - and latex, which is present in gloves.

If hives are caused by a bodys reaction to food, medications, cosmetics, insect bites or any other allergen or irritant, the disease is referred to as allergic urticaria. If sunlight is the main cause of hives, the condition is referred to as photosensitive urticaria. Though this cause is rare, it is commonly noticed in those individuals who receive immunoglobulin from other people. In such a case, the blood has been found to carry abnormal immune cells which attack when they come in contact with chemicals. These are produced in the skin due to sunlight, cold and other external triggers.

Symptoms


The main symptom of stress hives is the sudden appearance of reddish and swollen bumps. They are often itchy and you will feel them burn, particularly when you touch them. Stress hives can appear on any part of your body - your hands, feet, and even your face. Generally, they first appear on the covered areas such as your legs and upper parts of your arm. Later on, they develop on the exposed parts as well.

Stress hives can appear, disappear and reappear in a matter of a few minutes to even a few hours. They may also change their location.

Complications


In the initial stages, hives are not that dangerous, but you must undergo treatment. Should the disease progress to your mouth, it can lead to serious complications. You may face difficulty in breathing and you might even become unconscious. A swollen throat is a good indication of this; in such a case, seek medical attention without any delay.

Another complication associated with stress hives is an allergic reaction, called Anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis. The condition causes your bronchial tubes to narrow, and you will face difficulty in breathing. As a result, your blood pressure starts dropping, and the consequences from here onwards can be very serious, and can lead to death as well.

Here is a detailed look at the main irritants and other conditions that can cause hives.

Food


Food is a rare cause of hives and causes the symptoms to appear only when the patient is allergic to the food that he consumes. This is mainly true for foods such as eggs, nuts, milk, fish, berries, chocolates and tomatoes. Alcohol, tobacco and coffee do not exactly trigger hives but in many cases they have been known for worsening the symptoms.

Medications


In some cases, hives develop because of certain medications.

  • Acetylsalicylic acid anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen

  • Enzyme inhibitors like ramipril and enalapril

  • Antibiotics like sulfonamides and penicillins

  • Antiepileptic medications - carbamazepine and phenytoin are common examples

  • Anesthetics

  • Iodide

  • Vancomycin

  • Narcotic painkillers


In cases where hives are caused by medication or food, the primary irritants are usually not these. Instead, it is a preservative or additive. As an example, if you consume a food or pill that contains tartrazine, hives would develop as a reaction to this ingredient and not to the food or pill itself.

Soaps and Perfumes


Soaps, perfumes, cosmetics and lotions can also lead to a development of hives. This usually happens when a person switches to a new product, which makes it fairly easy for the disease to be diagnosed correctly.

Infections


Hives have been observed along with several infections whether they are present in the throat, stomach, urinary or genital infections. In these cases, the infection does not cause hives, but the bodys immunity to it can lead to an inflammation of the skin.

Risk Factors


There are many factors that can worsen the symptoms or increase the risk of hives.

  • Friction: If you gently rub or scratch your skin, hives might develop as a reaction because of the friction involved.

  • Swimming: Swimming increases the risks of hives because the waters can be very cold at times.

  • Pressure: Pressure leads to the development of pressure hives. This is when your skin is subjected to an increased pressure due to straps, belts and other similar materials.

  • Pregnancy: Hives are quite common in the later stages of pregnancy.


In some cases, exercise, hot showers and stress can also make you more prone to hives. Hives because of this are often referred to as cholinergic urticaria. Chronic hives can also form in those patients that are suffering from diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and thyroid disorders.

Treatment And Prevention


The best way to treat your stress hives is to lower your stress levels. Doing this would make your hives disappear all by themselves. Stress can be reduced in a number of ways. Here are some of the most effective ones.

  • Regular exercise is the key to healthy stress levels. Make sure the sessions are around an hour or so on a daily basis. You can also include walking, jogging and swimming as part of your routine.

  • Yoga and meditation are some of the most sought options for healthy stress levels.

  • Indulge your extra time in activities that you like. Spend time with friends, read a book, watch your favorite show.

  • Sleep for at least eight hours every day.


Other than maintaining stress levels you should take care of your skin as well. Regularly use moisturizers and keep it hydrated. There are certain medications available as well that can help you in treating hives. Consult your doctor for more information.

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