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Urticaria (Hives)

by Robert Marchlewski, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.A.A.I.

Urticaria and Angioedema

Urticaria, otherwise known as hives, normally consists of raised red or white areas of skin that typically itch or burn and can rapidly resolve with minutes or hours. Hives can frequently occur together with angioedema. Angioedema is a swelling of the underlying skin most typically involving the face. Urticaria can be mild and occur less than one day in duration. In other circumstances, hives can come and go daily or episodically for years. It is very commonly thought that all hives are a result of allergy, but most cases of hives that last for more than several days do not have a known cause.

A consultation with an Allergist will involve a thorough history, physical exam and possible skin/blood testing to help determine if there could be an identifiable cause of a patient’s urticaria/angioedema. An Allergist is also the most qualified physician to help determine the right medication(s) to treat urticaria/angioedema. The typical first line of medical therapy for urticaria/angioedema are oral antihistamines. There are other prescription medications that can be used if oral antihistamines do not effectively control symptoms. Your allergist will be able to help determine which is the proper medication regimen to help control symptoms to maximize your quality of life.

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