Hives, also called urticaria, are itchy, raised welts on the skin that are usually a reaction to something that has touched the skin. Hives can also be a reaction to certain foods or medications.
People with hives often have swelling in the affected area. The welts can occur anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat, or hands and feet. They can range in size from small dots to large, flat welts. Hives can appear and disappear quickly, and they may come and go over the course of several hours.
There are two types of hives: acute and chronic. Acute hives last less than six weeks, while chronic hives last more than six weeks. Hives can be a symptom of another condition, such as an allergy or infection. In some cases, the cause of hives is unknown.
Treatment for hives often focuses on relieving the symptoms. This can be done with over-the-counter antihistamines or prescription medications.
If the hives are caused by an allergic reaction, avoiding the trigger can help prevent future outbreaks. In some cases, immunotherapy may be recommended. This treatment helps to desensitize the body to the trigger and can be done with injections or oral medications.
Hives are a common condition that can be uncomfortable, but they are usually not serious. With treatment, most people find that their symptoms improve.