Can Chronic Hives be Caused by an Allergy to Yourself
All About Chronic Hives
Hives, known in the medical community as urticaria, is a skin condition that causes small or large raised bumps on the skin that are often intensely itchy and sometimes painful. Hives are chronic when they consistently last or recur frequently for more than six weeks. People who suffer from chronic hives often take daily medications to control the affliction and spend a lot of time and money trying to find the cause.
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Chronic hives in adults are often caused by physical stimuli to the body such as rubbing or scratching the skin, cold or hot temperatures, pressure on the skin, vibration, and exercise or emotional stress. More rarely, chronic hives in adults are caused by an unidentified food or inflammation of the blood vessels called vasculitis.
Causes of Chronic Hives
But can chronic hives be caused by being allergic to yourself? “Sort of,” says Joseph R. Perez, M.D., an allergy/immunology specialist at Allergy & Asthma Care of Houston in Sugar Land, Texas. “Growing evidence supports that a good portion of unidentified chronic hives may actually be caused by your body producing an antibody or protein that reacts with certain allergic cells or allergic proteins in your skin leading to daily hives.”
Dr. Perez notes that a true allergic reaction is caused when the body produces an IgE antibody, whereas in this example of chronic hives, the body produces a different antibody called IgG. “The difference being that this specific type of chronic hives is autoimmune rather than allergic, however, since it ultimately involves allergic cells, some might consider it being allergic to oneself,” says Dr. Perez. “The important thing is that there are certain techniques employed by some allergy/immunology physicians that can help to identify this subset of patients. Once identified, these patients at least know what is causing their daily hives. A treatment regimen can then be tailored to the patient’s individual needs and expectations,” says Dr. Perez.
Although there is no cure for chronic hives, the disease can be managed with medications such as antihistamines, leukotriene modifiers, and in some resistant cases, drugs that modulate the immune system.