Urticaria/Hives are red, itchy rash that looks similar to mosquito bites. The condition is considered Chronic Urticaria/Hives if the welts appear for more than 6 weeks. Chronic hives can be very uncomfortable and interfere with sleep and daily activities.
Welts that vary in size, change shape, and appear and fade
Itching, which may be severe
Painful swelling (angioedema) of the lips, extremities, eyelids and inside the throat
Chronic hives don't put you at any sudden risk of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). But if you do experience hives as part of a serious allergic reaction, seek emergency care. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include dizziness, trouble breathing, and swelling of your lips, eyelids and tongue.
Dr. Offengenden is experienced in diagnosing and treating patients with Urticaria/Hives. As part of the evaluation she will take a careful history focusing on your activities, medications, herbal remedies or supplements you take, and diet. This will be followed by physical exam and blood tests. Skin tests usually are not helpful in diagnosis of chronic urticaria.
Initial treatment usually involves taking antihistamines. Other medications such as montelukast, biologic medications, oral corticosteroids and occasionally immune-suppressing drugs can be used to treat severe disease.
Lifestyle and home remedies:
Chronic hives can go on for months and years. The following precautions may help prevent or soothe the recurring skin reactions of chronic hives:
Wear loose, light clothing.
Avoid scratching or using harsh soaps and avoid known triggers.
Soothe the affected area with a bath, fan, cool cloth, lotion or anti-itch cream.
Keep a diary of when and where hives occur, what you were doing, what you were eating, and so on. This may help you and your doctor identify triggers.
Apply sunscreen before going outside.