Can Hives Lead to A More Serious Problem?
Hives, also known as Urticaria, are an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps, patches, or welts on the skin that appear suddenly. This forms the rash. A rash involves a change in the color and texture of your skin. Often there are patches of redness that is first noticed. This may be caused by an allergy or for other reasons. Hives usually itch but they may also burn or sting. They can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue or ears. Hives vary in size ranging from a pencil eraser size to a dinner plate. They may join together forming larger areas known as plaques. They can last for hours, or up to several days before fading.
Hives are unpleasant but harmless. Symptoms usually settle within a few days. Sometimes the rash lasts for days or weeks and may require tests and further treatment. For most people, each attack of hives will become more severe. Avoiding the trigger is important. If you do not get better in 24 to 48 hours or you have any other concerns, see your local doctor. You may need to be referred to an allergy specialist.
In a medical emergency go to the nearest hospital emergency department or call an ambulance. With hives, it is a medical emergency if you have problems in breathing, choking, swelling that involves the lips, tongue and throat, become pale and sweaty, and collapsed.
Hives too are one of the symptoms of allergy. And, allergies may cause swelling beneath the surface of the skin. This is called angioedema. Angioedema is characterized by deep swelling around the eyes and lips and sometimes of the genitals, hands, and feet. It generally lasts longer than hives, but the swelling usually goes away in less than 24 hours.
When hives are seen as part of an anaphylactic allergic reaction, there is occasionally swelling of the throat area involving the laryngeal and pharyngeal area. If not treated immediately, this reaction can be fatal.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. It is rare but can cause swelling of the throat and be life-threatening. If you have a severe reaction, call an ambulance immediately (dial 000). If you have an anaphylactic reaction you may be advised to carry self-injectable adrenaline (called an Epipen). You may also want to wear a bracelet or disc that highlights the substance you are allergic to. Ask your local doctor or pharmacist for advice.