Urticaria, or hives, is a common skin condition that forms red, itchy, swollen plaques that move around on the skin. It commonly occurs in response to a new exposure, such as a medication or after an illness. Rarely, hives can occur in association with more serious conditions, including lupus, H. Pylori infection and skin blistering rashes. Fortunately, the majority of incidences self-resolve within a few days after stopping the trigger.
There are certain people who develop chronic hives, spots that continue to develop for more than 6 weeks. These tend to take years to resolve, and are completely disabling. At Michigan Dermatology Institute, we understand the seriousness with which these hives can ruin your life and want to get you clear from this ailment.
Q: Why do these happen?
A: A trigger, something the body’s innate (or first line) immune system detected, sets off a cascade of molecules and skin changes causing red itchy spots. A lot of times we can control this condition with treatment, other times we perform an evaluation of possible causes. Thankfully the great majority will self-resolve. If the trigger is known, this becomes an “allergy” in your health record.
Q: Can I avoid this from happening again?
A: Unfortunately, we can predict if this condition will happen again. Obviously, avoidance of the initial trigger, and anything similar to the known trigger, will help reduce your risk. Fortunately, if we find a treatment that works, it tends to work with future exposures. If not, we have several options as therapies, and there are more in development.
Q: What kinds of treatments are available?
A: In terms of cost and safety (as well as insurance and provider preference), over-the-counter non-sedating antihistamines, including up to four times the regular dose, are recommended as 1st line treatments. Topical anti-pruritics can be applied to spots for extra treatment of the itch. If one of the antihistamines does not work, we recommend to try another. If you’ve exhausted all of the over-the-counter options, we have prescription strength medications to get this under control. We will not stop until these hives stop.