Urticaria, or hives, is a common condition that affects 15-20% of the entire population at some point in their lives. This condition is characterized by red, raised bumps with well-defined borders. They’re extremely itchy and unsightly, and can be disturbing to patients at work, at school, and especially at home during sleep. Dr. Charles Song and Dr. Andrew Wong at the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology have extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of urticaria. Because systemic diseases can be associated with hives, it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Call the office in Manhattan Beach, California, or book an appointment online.
Hives, also called welts or wheals, or more technically termed urticaria, are red or skin-colored itchy bumps that appear on the surface of your skin. These welts may form in different shapes and sizes, with varying levels of itching, and are sometimes accompanied by swelling, or angioedema.
Hives may appear on any part of your body, and they may change size, shape, and location within a short period of time. They may even appear and disappear several times within a single day.
Urticaria is typically categorized by the duration of symptoms. Acute urticaria is defined by hives that are present for less than six weeks. Chronic urticaria is defined by recurrent hives, appearing almost daily, for six weeks or longer. More than two-thirds of new-onset hives are self-limited and acute, while no specific cause can be found for the majority of chronic hives.
Acute urticaria may be caused by an allergic reaction or in response to an illness. Some of the most common triggers include: food or medication allergies, insect stings, viral or bacterial infections, indoor/outdoor environmental allergies, and even latex.
Other subtypes of hives include physical urticarias. These hives develop in response to physical triggers such as pressure, extreme temperatures, rubbing or scratching, and sun exposure.
Uncommonly, but importantly, there are other systemic disorders which may present with hives as an initial symptom. Vasculitis, mast cell disorders, autoimmune disease, or even malignancy can manifest with hives. Thus, if you experience any hives, it’s very important to have a physician evaluate you as soon as possible.
While hives are localized swelling on the superficial layers of the skin, angioedema is the swelling of the deeper layers of the skin. Angioedema can occur in up to half of all urticaria patients, and may involve the eyes, lips, tongue, throat, face, hands, or feet.
Each patient’s case is unique and requires a different treatment regimen. Dr. Wong and Dr. Song at the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology complete a full workup to determine the underlying cause (if any) of your hives and formulate an effective and individualized treatment plan to alleviate the discomfort.
Some cases may require allergy testing, but in all cases, the doctors tailor a treatment plan which might include antihistamines, antileukotrienes, sleep aids, and/or topical medications. Steroids or even injectable biologic medications may also be necessary, and Dr. Song and Dr. Wong have extensive experience in the safe administration of these medications.
Please don’t continue to suffer from hives. Book an appointment online or call the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology to schedule a consultation.