How to Identify Hives
Hives are a type of allergic reaction that appears on the surface of the skin. However, it generally occurs on the torso, arms and legs, though other areas may also be affected. Other locations may include but are not limited to the scalp, the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. The medical name for hives is Urticaria, and it strikes young and old alike. Caused by a release of histamines in the body as a result of an allergic reaction to some stimulant such as pets, dust or food, the exact cause of the reaction is of unknown origin. Learning how to identify hives may help people to take preventative measures to reduce outbreaks.
Hives typically display as red, raised bumps, also known as welts or wheals, on the surface of the skin. They may cause intense itching in some, while others may experience a burning or stinging sensation. They can range in size from small spots the size of a mosquito bite to medium size like a quarter or fifty-cent piece to even larger, like a cup saucer or even larger.
Hives often cause swelling or puffiness in affected areas, including the fingers and toes. Some people experience swelling of the lips and eyelids. These symptoms may occur very quickly, and may or may not be accompanied by the sudden appearance of the red welts or wheals.
Raised bumps or welts often appear on one portion of the body and quickly spread. Sometimes, the wheals may seem to join others until they morph into a large welt that may cover a large portion of the body surface. Many people feel an accompanying sensation of shivers or of goosebumps as the welts form and spread.
Hives cause welts that may grow and disappear in a matter of moments, or they may last for hours, even days. They may disappear, only to reappear hours later.
Severe allergic reactions that accompany hives may include swelling of the tongue and throat, which may interfere with breathing. In such cases, an immediate visit to the nearest emergency room is recommended.