What are hives due to allergies?

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Allergic urticaria causes pink bumps or spots on the skin that itch or burn. It can be caused by allergens or high histamine levels. Severe cases can lead to anaphylactic reactions. Antihistamines are the usual treatment, and allergy testing may be recommended if hives persist.

Allergic urticaria, or urticaria, is an allergy-induced skin reaction. The reaction is pronounced, and people get pink bumps or spots on many parts of the skin that itch or burn. The entire skin may be covered or spots may appear where exposure to an allergen has occurred. The hives often occur on the arms and legs, trunk, neck and throat. Severe hives spread to the scalp or the palms and soles of the feet.

Hives aren’t always caused by allergy, though the way they’re produced is similar to an allergic reaction in all cases. They typically appear due to high histamine levels, and people often call an allergic response a histamine response. The difference with urticaria is that histamine can increase without the presence of a known allergen, so allergic urticaria may be a misnomer or refer to actual cases where people have an allergy and have urticaria in response to it.

Some of these real-life cases include those where people have extremely severe allergic reactions to substances and where allergic hives are the first indication of what could develop into an anaphylactic reaction. It would not be uncommon for a person with a peanut allergy to accidentally eat a peanut, start developing hives within minutes or even seconds, and then go on to develop swollen mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, and other very dangerous symptoms. On the other hand, allergic urticaria might be the only response to an allergy, or it might be accompanied by hay fever symptoms such as nasal congestion and itchy or red eyes.

At first, people may not always know whether hives are mild or severe allergic urticaria or if it is caused by some other substance or factor. There are potentially thousands of causes of hives. Some of the common ones include viral or bacterial infections, non-allergic skin irritations, certain medications that cause irritation, or even conditions like mental or emotional stress. Unless the hives keep coming back, it may be difficult to narrow it down to allergy hives. In all cases where hives suddenly progress to swollen mouth/tongue or difficulty breathing, this should be treated as a life-threatening allergy and emergency help should be sought immediately.

Most of the time, since hives are caused by the histamine reaction, the treatment for them is to give antihistamines, as it would be to treat allergies. Simple over-the-counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine may be recommended. If hives continue to occur, doctors might ask patients to write down the circumstances under which they occur to see if there is an underlying pattern that suggests an allergy.

For example, if petting your neighbor’s cat always seems to cause hives, you might assume that you are dealing with allergic hives due to a dander or cat dander allergy. Another approach is to undergo allergy testing to determine if a common item in the person’s home or a commonly eaten food could be causing allergic hives. Testing is usually only recommended if the hives keep coming back.

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