Disease Conditions

Hives (Urticaria)


Urticaria, also known as hives are raised, itchy red or white wheals on your skin.Urticaria involves only the superficial portion of the skin .Presenting as well circumscribed wheals with erythematous raised serpinginous borders with blanched centers which may coalesce to become giant wheals.

While most cases of hives go away within a few weeks or less, for some people they are a long-term problem. Chronic hives are defined as hives that last for more than six weeks or hives that go away but recur frequently.


  • Hives can be caused due to allergic reaction to some food such as shellfish, nuts, milk and eggs. Allergic reactions cause your body to release chemicals that can cause hives.
  • Chronic hives can also be due to other health problems such as thyroid disease or lupus.
  • Emotional stress and exercise.
  • Medications: Antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen and blood pressure medications or any medications can cause hives or angioedema in sensitive people.
  • Direct contact with pollen, animal dander and insect stings may cause hives or angioedema.
  • In most cases of chronic hives, a cause is never clearly identified.


Angioedema is a more serious condition than Urticaria. In Urticaria only the superficial portion of dermis of skin is involved whereas in angioedema deeper layers of the skin including the subcutaneous tissue is involved causing large welts deeper in your skin especially near eyes and lips.

It can cause sudden, severe and rapid swelling of your face, arms, legs, hands, feet, digestive tract and airway. Hives are not very harmful but angioedema can be life threatening if swelling causes your throat or tongue to block your airway and leads to loss of consciousness. It should be treated immediately. Hereditary angioedema is an uncommon, inherited disorder.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Hives appear as small round wheals or patches or raised bumps on skin. They are itchy and surrounded by a red flare. Sometimes they disappear on their own or you may require medication if they do not disappear. Hives can last from four to 36 hours. As each hive disappears, other new hives may develop.
  • Some people with chronic hives also have angioedema which can be life threatening and requires emergency treatment. Angioedema can cause swelling especially near your eyes and lips, hands, feet, genitalia, inside your throat. It causes large welts deeper in your skin. There is difficulty or obstructed breathing due to swelling of your airway leading to unconsciousness.


To prevent hives or angioedema

  • Avoid certain foods, medications, extremes of temperature and anything which triggered your past attacks.
  • Make a note of where and when did the hives occur and try to prevent such situations in future.