Hives or welts are itchy, raised, red areas on skin. About 25% of people experience hives sometime in their life. Hives can occur at any age. Most of the time, hives are not dangerous. Hives are classified based on how long they have been occurring and how long they last. Sudden hives that develop immediately after ingestion of a food or medication may suggest a food or drug allergy. Hives that occur randomly are called “spontaneous urticaria.” Most of the time, this is due to viral infection/illness or is considered to be an auto-immune condition. Spontaneous hives often have no specific trigger and can be very frustrating to patients. Chronic hives are hives that have been ongoing for 6 weeks or more. In general, the longer hives have been going on, the less likely it is a food, medication, or other substance causing them. Sometimes hives occur with swelling of lips, eyelids, hands, and feet. Over half of patients with chronic hives respond to antihistamines. The antihistamines can even help make the hive condition go away for good. Some people require Omalizumab, which is a once-monthly injection, to treat chronic hives. Chronic hives usually resolve within 3-5 years. Your allergy provider can work with you to determine if there is an underlying cause to your hives, and the treatment options available, so you can be itch and hive-free!
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