Hives (urticaria) is an outbreak of swollen, red bumps or wheals on the skin that appear suddenly and leave no trace when they disappear. Hives usually cause itching, but may also burn or sting. They can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat or ears. Hives vary in size and may join together to form larger areas known as plaques. They are harmless, except when occur at the back of the throat which causes swelling making breathing difficult. Acute hives last less than six weeks. The most common causes are foods (such as nuts, chocolate, fish tomatoes, eggs and milk), medicines, infections, insect bites and internal disease. Chronic hives last more than six weeks and 87% of people with chronic urticaria have an unknown cause.

Treatment Options: Hives often go away on their own or are treated with antihistamines. If hives do not respond completely to antihistamines then it may be necessary to use cortisone to control the eruption/itching.

Other Common Conditions

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