Nearly one in four people experience itchy, red or white bumps, welts or patches on the skin called hives—and heat can be a trigger. But the length of your symptoms is also important. This is what determines if you have acute or chronic hives.
Milwaukee, WI (PRWEB) May 24, 2012
While the unofficial start of summer signals warmer weather, it can also bring some unwanted companions. Nearly one in four people experience itchy, red or white bumps, welts or patches on the skin called hives—and heat can be a trigger, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). But the length of your symptoms is also important. This is what determines if you have acute or chronic hives.
Acute hives last less than a day or up to six weeks and are likely a reaction triggered by coming in contact with an allergen such as a food, animal dander, insect bite, latex or pollen. Visit your physician to identify the trigger and then avoid it to prevent this allergic reaction from reoccurring.
Another possible culprit for acute hives is medications. It’s important to know that reactions to a medication can happen at any time during the period you’re taking it. There are also non-allergic causes of acute hives, including heat, stress, exercise or exposure to certain chemicals. In fact, one of the most common causes in children is a viral infection.
The majority of people suffering from chronic hives have symptoms that last longer than a year. Unfortunately, most chronic hives are idiopathic, which means that the exact cause can’t be identified.
Only a small percentage of chronic hives are due to an allergy. For this reason, the AAAAI recently stressed as part of the Choosing Wisely campaign that routine testing such as general blood counts or screens are not cost-effective, nor do these tests make a difference in treatment strategies to relieve symptoms.
Whether you have acute or chronic, hives are often very itchy but not contagious. While most cases get better on their own, your physician may tell you to avoid hot baths and showers, wear loose-fitting clothing or take antihistamines to reduce itching and swelling.
Severe flare-ups sometimes require taking a type of medication called corticosteroids so be sure to visit your physician. In rare instances, hives can be a symptom of a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. Call 911 if you experience hives along with any of these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in your throat
- Tongue or face swelling
The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,600 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help find a specialist close to home.