Hives (Urticaria & Angioedema)

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Are Hives Always Caused by an Allergy?

Hives are a very common reaction to all kinds of stimuli. While an allergic reaction can be a cause of hives, in the majority of outbreaks, the exact cause of hives is not known.

Picture of Hives

Quick GuideRosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases

Rosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases

Hives facts

  • Hives (medically known as urticaria) are red, itchy, raised areas of skin that appear in varying shapes and sizes, each one characteristically lasts no longer than six to 12 hours.
  • Hives are very common, and most often their cause is elusive.
  • Hives can change size rapidly and move around, disappearing in one place and reappearing in other places, often in a matter of hours.
  • Ordinary hives flare up suddenly.
  • Occasionally hives are produced by direct physical stimulation by environmental forces like heat, cold, and sunlight.
  • Treatment of hives is directed at symptom relief until the condition goes away on its own.
  • Antihistamines are the most common treatment for hives.
  • Hives typically are not associated with long-term or serious complications. Continue Reading
Reviewed on 2/22/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Bernstein, Jonathan A., et al. "The Diagnosis and Management of Acute and Chronic Urticaria: 2014 Update." J Allergy Clin Immunol 133.5 May 2014: 1270-1277.

Criado, Paulo Ricardo. "Chronic Urticaria in Adults: State-of-the-Art in the New Millennium." An Bras Dermatol 90.1 (2015): 74-89.

Fine, Lauren M., and Jonathan A. Bernstein. "Urticaria Guidelines: Consensus and Controversies in the European and American Guidelines." Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 15 (2015): 30.

Frigas, Evangelo, and Miguel A. Park. "Acute Urticaria and Angioedema." Am J Clin Dermatol 10.4 (2009): 239-250.

Langley, Emily W., and Joseph Gigante. "Anaphylaxis, Urticaria, and Angioedema." Pediatrics in Review 34 (2013): 247-258.

IMAGES:

1.iStock

2.iStock

3.iStock

4.iStock

5.Medscape

6.iStock

7.MedicineNet

8.iStock

9.iStock

10.iStock

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Allergy and Asthma Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Hives - Describe Your Experience

    Please describe your experience with hives.

    Post View 98 Comments
  • Hives - Treatment

    What was your treatment for hives?

    Post View 64 Comments
  • Hives - Symptoms

    What did your hives look like and where on your body did they appear? Did you have other symptoms?

    Post View 6 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors