Hives appear as a red rash or welts anywhere on your body. If you’re having an attack of hives, the welts may appear in one area one day and another area on another day.
Though hives usually resolve on their own within a day or so, they can be itchy or uncomfortable in the meantime. They may also be accompanied by serious symptoms that need immediate medical attention, such as swelling in your throat or mouth or shortness of breath.
If you suffer from hives (aka urticaria) intermittently or chronically, our team at Radiance Dermatology wants to determine why so you can stop itching now and reduce future occurrences. Our expert dermatologist, Dr. Omolara Olowoyeye, tests for allergies and offers relief for acute and chronic attacks of hives at our offices in Bethesda, Maryland.
Hives are a fairly common form of allergic reaction, affecting about 20% of people at some point in their lives.
Do you have hives? Below are some common issues that may be at the root of your itchy, inflamed skin and other symptoms.
You were exposed to pet dander
One of the most common triggers for hives is exposure to pet dander. Even if you have a cat or dog, encountering a new pet or a number of new animals might overwhelm your immune system.
Other signs that you have an allergy to pet dander include dry, itchy, or swollen eyes. After exposure, you may itch for a day or two and then be fine. Or, the hives could recur in another area.
A tick or other insect bit you
If you develop hives a few hours after eating, you may have been bitten by a tick called the lone star tick. Even though it sounds like the tick is only found in Texas (the Lone Star State), it actually lives all around the east coast, including in Maryland.
The lone star tick causes you to develop a food allergy called alpha-gal syndrome. When you have alpha-gal syndrome, you develop hives several hours after eating red meat, pork, gelatin, or dairy.
You may also develop hives after a bee sting or other insect sting or bite. Some people are highly allergic to bee stings and may go into anaphylactic shock if stung. If you have trouble breathing or if your throat swells up after an insect sting or bite, call 911. Always carry an EpiPen® with you.
You have a food allergy
In addition to the food allergies triggered by a lone star tick bite, other foods can be allergenic in themselves. You should be able to pin down your particular allergies by keeping a food diary and noting when you have a hive breakout.
Common food allergens include:
- Tree nuts
Once you identify your trigger foods, avoid them and you should be able to control your hives.
You have an infection or had a medical procedure
Almost anything that overstimulates your immune system could cause an outbreak of hives. That’s why it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and find out what’s causing your acute or chronic hives.
Hives can be caused by:
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections
- Certain medications
- Blood transfusions
Allergy tests help create a complete breakdown of what factors are triggering your hives.
You’re under stress or overheated
Heating up your body through vigorous exercise may cause a hive outbreak or worsen an attack that you already have. Stress can play a role in causing hives, too.
Too much sun can also trigger an outbreak. Even tight clothing can irritate your skin enough to cause hives.
Hives can be treated
Even if your hives disappear on their own, there’s no reason to be uncomfortable in the meantime.
We may recommend:
- Topical anti-itch lotions or creams
- An EpiPen® for life-threatening reactions
Get the answer to what’s causing your hives by coming in for allergy testing and treatment today. Contact our dermatologist and friendly staff by calling us at 301-430-4000 or booking an appointment online.