Urticaria, also called hives, is a condition of swollen, light red bumps or plaques (wheals) on the skin that appear either due to the body’s reaction to allergens or for other reasons.


Acute urticaria

The most generally perceived causes are certain foods, medicines, or pollutants. Animal fur, pollens, and dust mites are also culprits.

Chronic urticaria

The cause behind this type of hives is more difficult to perceive than those causing acute urticaria.

Physical urticaria

Direct physical stimulation of the skin can cause hives, such as stimulation from heat, cold, vibration, weight, sweating, and exercise.


This type of hives is caused by stroking or scratching the skin. It is a type of physical urticaria.


Signs and symptoms of urticaria include:

  • Patches of red or brownish wheels, which can show up anywhere in the body
  • Welts that vary in size, change shape and appear more as time goes on
  • Itching
  • Painful swelling (angioedema) of the lips, eyelids and inside the throat

These signs and symptoms tend to flare up with triggers, such as heat, exercise, and stress. They can last for over a month to a few months, while in some cases, they can even last for years. Acute urticaria appears suddenly and can clear up after a few weeks.


Considering that there are no definite examinations for hives or the associated angioedema, the diagnosis will rely on your medical history and physical exam by your doctor or dermatologist.

Skin testing may be done to know what substances are you sensitive to. Routine blood tests are done to know whether your hives are due to another medical condition.


The primary treatment for urticaria and angioedema is to know and avoid the trigger. Antihistamines may be prescribed by your doctor to ease signs and symptoms. Antihistamines work to relieve signs and symptoms of inflammation.

When antihistamines don’t give relief, oral corticosteroids may be suggested. A medicine, omalizumab, may also be given in those above 12 years old.

To the people who have chronic and more serious hives or angioedema, the use of epinephrine or a steroid medication may be required.

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