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HIVES, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

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Hives, also known as urticaria, is a kind of skin rash with red, raised, itchy bumps.[1] They may also burn or sting.[2] Often the patches of rash move around.[2] Typically they last a few days and do not leave any long-lasting skin changes.[2] Fewer than 5% of cases last for more than six weeks.[2] The condition frequently recurs.[2]

Hives frequently occur following an infection or as a result of an allergic reaction such as to medication, insect bites, or food.[2] Psychological stress, cold temperature, or vibration may also be a trigger.[1][2] In half of cases the cause remains unknown.[2] Risk factors include having conditions such as hay fever or asthma.[3] Diagnosis is typically based on the appearance.[2] Patch testing may be useful to determine the allergy.[2]

Prevention is by avoiding whatever it is that causes the condition.[2] Treatment is typically with antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and ranitidine.[2] In severe cases, corticosteroids or leukotriene inhibitors may also be used.[2] Keeping the environmental temperature cool is also useful.[2] For cases that last more than six weeks immunosuppressants such as ciclosporin may be used.[2]

About 20% of people are affected.[2] Cases of short duration occur equally in males and females while cases of long duration are more common in females.[4] Cases of short duration are more common among children while cases of long duration are more common among those who are middle aged.[4] Hives have been described at least since the time of Hippocrates.[4] The term urticaria is from the Latin urtica meaning “nettle”.[5]

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