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Urticaria and Hives
Hives (or urticaria) are redden and swollen skin areas with different sizes and affecting several areas of the body, ranging from localized forms to the whole body.
What is exactly urticaria
It is not really a single disease but a group of diseases showing the same symptoms: hives produced by histamine release.
It is a common disease: one out of five (20%) of the population have had or will have an episode of hives sometime during their lifetime.
It can affect any area of the body, including hands and feet, although the trunk and limbs are frequent affected areas.
The size of the wheals can vary: they frequently group and become big patches. A very characteristic feature is they disappear with no trace.
Their quick nature is another feature: usually they last no more than 24 to 48 hours, although they may last longer.
- Food: due to a truly allergic mechanism or because the food is rich in histamine (as tomatoes, shellfish or tree nuts)
- Drugs: some medication may cause hives, as pain killers (aspirin and related drugs). It is usually a non-allergic mechanism
- Some physical agents may induce hives: dermographism (increased sensitiviy of the skin to the pressure) can be found in 5% of the population.
- The cholinergic urticaria is produced after activities that rise body temperature, including workout, hot baths, fever or stress.
- Cold temperatures may also be the cause of itching and hives in the limbs or in any other body areas when they are exposed to cold air, as well as cold water inmersion, drinking cold water or soda, or ice cream.
- Solar urticaria is caused by sunlight exposition, mainly during the seasons where the clothes allow greater skin exposition to the sun.
Some women (and also some men) have a skin that does not tolerate every kind of beauty products. There is not a true lesion but the patient may notice a rather continous annoyance.
A burning, tightness or tingling feeling may be noticed although the look of the skin is absolutely normal. This may happen more frequently in women with thin, dry and fair skin.
Updated: november 10th, 2013