Hives are a skin condition that causes swollen welts and bumps on the skin. Hives are generally red, but may be the same color as the rest of the skin. Hives that remain for less than 6 weeks are considered to be acute while hives persisting for longer than that are classified as chronic.
In many cases, hives occur as part of an allergic reaction. This may stem from a food, especially common food protein allergies like peanuts, nuts, and shellfish. The hives could also stem from an allergy to pollen, pet dander, latex, medication, insects, or plants. Sometimes hives are not part of an allergy but are instead caused by changes in the weather; for example, extreme cold or heat can trigger hives. Hives can also be the result of stress. Chronic infections, both bacterial and viral types, can cause hives to develop. Metabolic disease may also be the reason behind the development of chronic hives.
The treatment for hives will depend on the cause of the hives, so the allergist will work closely with each patient in an attempt to isolate the exact reason for the hives. This information will allow the allergist to create a custom treatment plan to keep hives at bay as much as possible. In cases where the cause of the hives is a single allergen (for example, peanuts or milk), avoidance of the allergen is often enough to resolve the issue. However, there may be times that the allergen is accidentally ingested, so an emergency plan is often created as well. Antihistamine medication may be useful in resolving hives in cases like this. For patients who have very serious allergic hives, it may be useful to have an epinephrine injection on hand at all times in case of emergency.
At Asthma & Allergy Clinic, we accept most major insurance plans. Here is a short-list of just some of the most popular plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.