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Urticaria / Hives

What is urticaria?

Urticaria, or hives, is a condition in which red, itchy, and swollen areas appear on the skin -- usually as an allergic reaction from eating certain foods or taking certain medicines; however, sometimes the cause may be unknown. Hives can vary in size from one-half inch to several inches in size. Hives can appear all over the body or be limited to one part of the body.

What foods commonly cause hives?

  • Nuts

  • Peanuts

  • Eggs

  • Shellfish

  • Milk

What medicines commonly cause hives?

  • Penicillin

  • Sulfa

  • Anticonvulsant drugs

  • Phenobarbital

  • Aspirin

Other causes of hives

  • Dermatographism - hives caused by scratching the skin, continual stroking of the skin, or wearing tight-fitting clothes that rub the skin.

  • Cold-induced - hives caused by exposure to cold air or water.

  • Solar hives - hives caused by exposure to sunlight or light-bulb light.

  • Exercise-induced urticaria - allergic symptoms brought on by physical activity.

  • Chronic urticaria - recurrent hives with no known cause.

What is angioedema?

Angioedema is an allergic reaction that causes swelling deeper in the layers of the skin. It most commonly occurs on the hands, feet, and face (lips and eyes).

Online Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians  http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/physical/injuries/737.printerview.html
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America  http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergic-skin-conditions.aspx
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology  http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/medications-and-drug-allergic-reactions.aspx
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology  http://www.aaaai.org/patients/allergic_conditions/urticaria.stm
American Academy of Dermatology  http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/skin_urticaria.html
American Academy of Dermatology  http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/hives/diagnosis-treatment/hives-diagnosis-treatment-and-outcome
American Academy of Dermatology  http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/hives/signs-symptoms/hives-signs-and-symptoms
American Academy of Dermatology  http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/hives/who-gets-causes/hives-who-gets-and-causes
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America  http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=8&sub=16&cont=39
American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology  http://www.acaai.org/public/advice/urtic.htm

© 2000-2011 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.