Almost everyone experiences temporary hives at some point, but this allergic reaction may be a sign of life-threatening anaphylaxis. Upper East Side, New York City allergist-immunologist and internal medicine physician Dr. Amy Lichtenfeld, treats teenagers through adults with hives and other skin allergies at Eastside Medical Associates. If you have severe or persistent hives, call or book an appointment online today.
Hives are itchy welts that appear on your skin. They can range in size from a pinpoint to a dinner plate and develop on any part of your skin. Welts that appear near each other may connect to form even larger hives.
The medical term for hives is urticaria. Welts caused by urticaria may be:
Most hives go away on their own within 24 hours, but a new wave of hives may appear as the old ones fade. Hives that persist longer than 6 weeks are considered chronic.
Sometimes, hives occur during anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that requires emergency treatment.
Angioedema is a skin reaction similar to hives, but it involves welts that appear deeper beneath your skin. Angioedema may occur at the same time as hives, or on its own. This reaction usually affects the skin around your lips, cheeks, and eyes.
Signs and symptoms of angioedema include:
Angioedema can cause your eyelids or lips to swell severely. If this happens, you should seek immediate medical care.
Hives and angioedema are most often caused by food or drug allergies. These reactions can also result from several medical conditions, such as a viral infection.
Common triggers of hives and angioedema include:
Some people may also inherit a genetic predisposition to angioedema.
Dr. Lichtenfeld can usually diagnose hives by looking at your skin. To determine the cause of your hives, she thoroughly reviews your medical history and lifestyle habits. She may also perform blood tests or allergy tests.
Once she discovers the cause of your hives, Dr. Lichtenfeld develops an individualized treatment plan, which may include:
If you’re concerned about severe hives or skin swelling, call Dr. Amy Lichtenfeld or book an appointment online today.