You might think that you are the only one that has them, but you’re not. If you have hives, you are one of MANY!
Hives (technically called “urticaria”) is a very common skin problem with the most common symptom being itchiness. Twenty-five percent of people have hives at some point in their lives. Most of the time, the hives are temporary or acute (lasting less than 6 weeks), because they are due from a temporary underlying problem or trigger. Once that problem/trigger is gone, so are the hives.
Hives that last for six weeks or longer are chronic and tend to be more difficult to treat. Oftentimes, these long-lasting hives are typically not due to allergies at all but are due to unknown causes. Many cases, however, are suspected to be autoimmune in nature. Regardless of the cause, chronic hives can be annoying, irritating, and/or frustrating and can decrease one’s quality of life. Although both women and men can be affected by chronic urticaria, women tend to be more frequently affected for unknown reasons. Interestingly, when it comes to children, girls and boys are equally affected.
Evaluation of hives (acute or chronic) can sometimes include a set of lab work to determine if certain underlying conditions exist that might cause urticaria. For acute hives, sometimes a particular trigger is found within the lab work. However, most of the time for chronic hives, no alarming underlying condition is found.
There is no cure for hives, but most acute hives episodes resolve by themselves or with the avoidance of the identified trigger. Treatment for chronic urticaria mainly involves trying to control the symptoms with the hope that the hives will resolve spontaneously (which they do sometimes).
Treatment can include anti-histamines, steroids, biologics, and others.
If you need help for hives, come see the allergist at Atlanta ENT for help!
Faria Khan, MD