Hives usually cause itching, but may also burn or sting. They can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat, or ears. Hives vary in size (from a pencil eraser to a dinner plate), and may join together to form larger areas known as plaques. They can last for hours, or up to one day before fading.
There are 4 main common known types of hives
Acute urticaria: Hives lasting less than six weeks. The most common causes are certain foods, medicines, or infections. Insect bites and internal disease may also be responsible.
The most common foods that cause hives are nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, fresh berries, and milk. Fresh foods cause hives more often than cooked foods. Certain food additives and preservatives may also be to blame.
Drugs that can cause hives and angioedema include aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, high blood pressure drugs (ACE inhibitors), or painkillers such as codeine.
Chronic urticaria and angioedema: Hives lasting more than six weeks. The cause of this type of hives is usually more difficult to identify than those causing acute urticaria. For most people with chronic urticaria, the cause is unknown.
Chronic urticaria and angioedema can affect other internal organs such as the lungs, muscles, and gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include muscle soreness, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Physical urticaria: Hives caused by direct physical stimulation of the skin — for example, cold, heat, sun exposure, vibration, pressure, sweating, and exercise. The hives usually occur right where the skin was stimulated and rarely appear elsewhere. Most of the hives appear within one hour after exposure.
Dermatographism: Hives that form after firmly stroking or scratching the skin. These hives can also occur along with other forms of urticaria.
Usually, hives is diagnosed by skin test to find out the allergens that you are allergic to.
Then routine blood tests are done to determine if a system-wide illness is present.
Purpose of the treatment is to identify and remove the trigger, but this is not an easy task.
The first stage is treated by antihistamines.
Chronic hives may be treated with antihistamines or a combination of medications. When antihistamines don’t provide relief, oral corticosteroids may be prescribed.
For severe hive or angioedema outbreaks, an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) or a cortisone medication may be needed.
Apply cool compresses or wet cloths to the affected areas.
Try to work and sleep in a cool room.
Wear loose-fitting lightweight clothes.