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Hives: Why do you get them?

Hives are a common condition characterized by the sudden appearance of several pinkish-red itchy bumps on one’s skin. These welts can range from mildly annoying to downright painful. About 20% of the population is bound to develop hives at least once in their life. It can appear anywhere in the body, including the face, chest, back, lips, eyelids, tongue, ears, and throat.

It seems to be more prevalent in women than men. The occurrence of hives can be more serious in some people, sometimes accompanied by swelling and build-up of fluid in certain affected body parts - a condition called angioedema.

Fortunately, hives often go away quickly on their own without the need for treatment. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and various treatments are available to help the skin recover from this mysterious but ordinary skin condition.

Have a look at some of the symptoms, reasons and their cures:-

Symptom 1

Out of the blue, you've got hives, a raised, red, itchy rash all over your body that disappears in about 30 minutes, leaving no mark.


It could be an allergy to a food you have eaten. Allergies to food can appear suddenly and without warning. Common allergies include nuts, shellfish and eggs.


See your doctor to have prick tests done to confirm which foods you are allergic to and then avoid them. Antihistamines and calamine lotion will relieve the itching.

Symptom 2

You've been getting recurring attacks of hives at intervals over a few weeks. Each crop of itchy weals lasts no longer than half an hour.


It could be an allergy to some kind of drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Aspirin is an ingredient in cough medicine and headache cures.


Stop any medication you are taking, including over-the-counter products and consult your doctor.

Symptom 3

First, you got some spots that your doctor thought were insect bites, and they were followed by attacks of hives that come and go over weeks or months.


An allergic reaction to insect bites, the commonest of which is fleas but any insect bite can cause hives.


De-flea any pets and the pets of relatives. An old cat or dog could harbour fleas without anyone knowing and they may be in cushions and sofas.

Some of the tips to treat dermatitis at home

Dermatitis or inflamed skin is usually due to something irritating the skin, like an allergy. It can also be genetic. Here are a few things you can try at home to relieve the pain:

  • Always use a soap substitute, such as E45 or Diprobase.

  • Wear a rubber gloves when you put your hands in water. Hard water can defat (remove natural oils) the skin.

  • Moisturising creams called emollients can help calm a mild flare-up of dermatitis. Non-perfumed ones are the best. Use frequently throughout the day.

  • Try not to scratch the affected area as it will open up your skin and let bacteria in, causing infection. It's best if you cut your nails short.

  • Take short quick showers and avoid baths.

If these techniques don't help, speak to your pharmacist, a doctor or a dermatologist.


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