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Hives symptoms and causes

Updated on April 24, 2013

Urticaria is the medical term of Hives. It is a common type of skin allergy. It occurs in two forms acute and chronic.

Hives Symptoms

  • In hives rashes appear as raised, lumpy and circular welts on the skin.
  • The welts are red or pink or white in their color.
  • All small rashes appear as clustered bumps on the skin.
  • They vary in size and shape.
  • The size of hives is generally ranging from a few millimeters to several centimeters.
  • The hives are itchy in nature.
  • In some cases they are not only itchy but also cause burning sensation and pain.
  • It is usually observed that when hives of a particular area decrease in prominence, they soon reappear on other parts of the body.
  • Hives can develop on almost any part of the body, commonly on the trunk, arms and legs.
  • Acute hives occur suddenly with a triggered stimulus and disappear within half an hour to less than six weeks.
  • Chronic urticaria rashes stands for long periods more six weeks.
  • In some long duration cases chronic urticaria may cause rashes in the throat, leading to breathing problems and life threatening condition also.

Depending on the type of the hives, they are named as follows:

  1. Papular urticaria: This type of urticaria causes papules on the body and is usually recurring. They may occur as some papules in different areas of the body or may be in clusters.
  2. Urticaria pigmentosa: Brownish lesions develop on the skin. On rubbing these lesions develop into hives or bumps. In young children, it may even be in the form of fluid filled blisters.
  3. Urticarial vasculitis: is a skin condition characterized by fixed urticarial lesions that appear histologically as a vasculitis. This skin condition is characterized by skin lesions that can be painful and may even burn and itch. It is a severe form of hives that is usually recurring type.

Hives causes

Hives are common and not a very painful disease. Those who suffer from hives are very uncomfortable because it is often very itchy and unpleasant. Although they can be annoying, they usually resolve on their own over a period of weeks and are rarely medically serious. To get rid of hives it is necessary to know what causes urticaria. Knowing the cause and avoiding the cause behind the hives is the best way to prevent and cure hives.

Hives are produced when histamine and other compounds are released from cells called mast cells, which are normally found in the skin. Histamine causes fluid to leak from the local blood vessels, leading to swelling in the skin.

  • Some people are allergic to some kind of food substances which causes hives. Some food allergens are Eggplant, Milk, Eggs, Sell-fish etc
  • Using over the counter drugs in an unprescribed way may also cause allergy and skin rashes.
  • Infections like Ear infections, Dental infections and Sinusitis may cause urticarial rashes.
  • Mental stress, depression and anxiety may also cause hives.
  • Extreme hot and extreme cold conditions may cause urticaria.
  • Urticaria may be sometimes Idiopathic (the reason that cause rashes are unidentified )
  • In some cases hives may be Hereditary.
  • Injections like penicillin and anti-tetanus may also cause allergic reactions leading to hives.
  • Physical injuries and Insect stings of Honey bees also cause welts on the skin.
  • Exposure to Sun rays and Water may cause rashes on the skin.
  • Excess pressure like watch straps, tight-fitting clothing, belts, walking, leaning against an object, standing, sitting on a hard surface also cause rashes on skin.
  • Rubbing, scratching, or firm stroking of the skin also cause welts.


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    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 5 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Urticaria Pigmentosa is completely different from simple hives . It is a type of Mastocytosis which is caused by having too many Mast cells in the bone marrow. When triggered by some allergy or irritation these mast cells produce excess histamine. Internal organs can be affected as well as the skin and allergies are usually multiple. Anaphylaxis is a real danger and Leukaemia can develop if the mast cells are too abundant. It is a rare disorder which in some cases can lead to death. In the milder forms there may just be a small number of lesions and not so many allergies. All in all a nasty disease though.

    • profile image

      Ryan Parker 6 years ago

      Great information and thanks for researching and publishing what you've learnt. I've been dealing with it for most of my life. I was 5 years old when it started and I have been getting it regularly about 3 times a week. Lately it has become worse and I've been having it everyday. Its only been recently that I've learn't to control it with an unorthodox treatment. I've learnt that the problem wasn't so much the allergens, rather its my stupid immune system that is going haywire. After treatment to re-align and re-balance my immune system I've been free of hives for a month already. I am very hopeful that this will continue my whole life. If you're interested in my story please head over to



    • swathi180 profile image

      swathi180 6 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by and glad that it is useful for you.

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 6 years ago from chennai

      These sort of information are really handy and useful.Thank you swathi180.