red welts that cause severe itching - When hives form - usually for no apparent reason. The trigger for the skin disease can be varied and are hard to identify. We have compiled all the important information about hives here.

What's hives?

When hives, also known as urticaria, is in principle not an allergic reaction, but a hypersensitivity reaction of the skin to certain stimuli. Therefore, the name of hives is because a rash occurs, similar to the following contact with stinging nettles. Hives are not contagious.

According to studies, about 20 percent of the population in Germany are affected at least once in the life of hives, including three to six percent of children under 16 years. In almost 80 percent of cases, the exact cause of the complex skin disease can not be determined.

The symptoms occurring in the hives, which appear normally a few minutes after the triggering stimulus, often sound after about 24 hours of alone off again, but they may persist for several days or weeks. If the hives occur in total not more than six weeks, it is called an acute phenomenon. Anything beyond that is called chronic.

Display guide to allergies

Recommended reading: allergies in children and adolescents40 percent of adults suffer once in their lives or more times from an allergic disease. Of course, young children can also be affected them already. In order to recognize allergic reactions properly and respond quickly, We recommend you this guide on allergies.

How hives manifest itself?

Although there are many potential causes and triggers for hives, occur in all forms very similar symptoms:

  • Hives: On cue, the formation of mostly red welts follows. They differ greatly in shape and size; so they can be like a palm, for example, as small as pinheads, as well as large. Depending on the severity of the hives they occur at certain places or all over. The hives can also change their position and move accordingly so to speak about the body.
  • Itching: Typically, the cause hives strong, painful itching. Sometimes a burning occurs.
  • angioedema: In half of all cases of hives the body reacts with the formation of cushion-like swelling of the subcutaneous tissue.
  • Swollen mucous membranes: Certain areas of the mucous membranes may swell. If this happens for example in the pharynx, the swallowing or nausea may result. Also, shortness of breath, to unconsciousness, may be the result.

Thereby hives triggered?

When hives is an immune reaction of the body. At a certain stimulus, the mast cells of the immune system are encouraged messengers, primarily histamine to distribute. The blood vessels dilate, the skin swells, produces the typical skin inflammation.

This process of the immune system actually serves to "intruders" as if to ward as bacteria. When hives mast cells respond to stimuli in error, which often give no occasion for an immune response. These triggers can be very diverse:

  • infections
  • Medications such as aspirin, diclofenac and ibuprofen
  • Physical stimuli such as heat, cold or pressure
  • light
  • friction
  • stress
  • Physical exertion

Hives can be seen as a symptom of other allergies such as food intolerance. For example, spicy foods can enhance the hives. In addition, sometimes it occurs spontaneously, so that no trigger can be established.

How hives diagnosed?

Since hives can have so many completely different triggers, it is very difficult to find the responsible stimulus. Since the most effective treatment for hives, however, it is to avoid the trigger fully, the most accurate diagnosis is very important.

In order to limit potential trigger, the attending doctor will first perform a medical history. He tries to find out whether other allergies exist, regular medication or other environmental stimuli for the hives could be responsible. This can be very helpful if the patient carries an allergy diary, is entered in the when, how much and how long the hives occurred. Also photos of the hives can be beneficial because they are possibly already healed again until it comes to a doctor's appointment.

Subsequently, one or more of the following test methods are used for the accurate diagnosis of the hives inducer:

  • prick test: This standard test possible allergens are applied in liquid form on the skin. Then the epidermis is easily scratched, so the allergens can penetrate the skin. After about 30 minutes the doctor checked whether an allergic reaction with hives or redness occurred.
  • Patch test: In this test the suspected substances are merely coated with an adhesive bandage on the skin. After about 24 hours this is removed and analyzed the skin reactions. This check is repeated after 48 and 72 hours.
  • intradermal test: In this test, a single allergen is injected under the skin. By intradermal an allergy can be very much determined fine, but it is also strong allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, may occur.
  • Provocation test: Can be found by none of the other diagnostic methods, a trigger for the hives, a provocation test can be performed. That is, the patient is placed in direct contact with the trigger potential or that it is subjected to specific stimuli such as heat or cold. However, strong reactions can arise in this way also, such a test should be done only under medical supervision.
  • Blood, urine or stool sample: To confirm the diagnosis, and whether increased histamine is distributed to determine, and the taking of blood and urine or stool samples come into question.

How is urticaria treated?

In many cases, the symptoms of hives disappear after a few days by itself off again without leaving any marks or scars. However, to alleviate the symptoms or prevent hives all over, there are various treatment methods.

In order to avoid the occurrence of hives is to avoid the trigger most effective, as far as it is known. Antihistamines are used mostly complementary, which block the action of histamine distributed by the mast cells. Especially those who suffer from a chronic form of the hives, take these medications for several months, if it is a mirror is set up in the blood. Studies have shown that the symptoms do not come back at a effectively treated hives even after discontinuation of the drug.

Hives in pregnancy
If a hives during pregnancy, the defendant should be better without taking medication. However, the hives often improves during pregnancy.

Against the hives and rash the doctor prescribes still mostly anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids, which reduce the release of histamine and stabilize the mast cells. Also, ointments and creams can fade skin reactions and relieve the itching. Against this and cold towels or cooling pads can help. Note: This option should only be used when one is quite sure that the hives is not cold-induced. Heat, however, can intensify the itch because the blood circulation will be further boosted in this way.

Depending on how strong the responses in cases of urticaria, it is useful to create an emergency kit with effective drugs. Also a kind of allergic card on which is recorded, whereupon react may be beneficial.

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