There is nothing worse than eating something like big, juicy strawberries or tomatoes, and after you are finished, suddenly have these ugly red welts start forming all over your body. Not only are they ugly, but they itch like crazy. They are enough to drive you nuts!
What hives are
Hives are red or pink bumps or slightly raised patches on the skin that appear suddenly. Sometimes the raised patches have a lighter colored center. Hives burn, itch or sting.
Hives have no particular shape or size. They can be tiny spots like an insect bite or they can be huge, red blotches. On rare occasions, they may show up as rings or clusters, too. They may appear all over the body or in just one part of the body. Sometimes they come and go.
Are hives dangerous?
Up to 25 percent of the people living within the United States get hives at some time during their lifetime. If the hives are not a result of a serious allergic reaction, they are usually harmless. If they are caused by an allergic reaction, the other symptoms that happen at the same time may be quite dangerous.
Why people get hives
There are a number of reasons why people get hives, but often the cause is not known. When hives are caused by allergic reactions, the person may have eaten a food like shellfish, nuts, milk or berries; suffered a bug bite or been stung by an insect; or may have taken a new medication that affected them adversely.
Some people get hives from stress, nervousness, exercise, a viral infection or exposure to the sun or to sudden heat or cold. Some find it especially frustrating not to know the exact cause of the problem. Regardless of what causes them, hives can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days.
Treatments for hives
If the patient has a known allergy to a certain food, the best thing he or she can do is refrain from eating that food. In some cases, the doctor will prescribe an antihistamine to help stop the itchiness and blotchiness. If there is a question about which food is causing the hives, the doctor may send the patient to an allergy specialist to determine what allergies he or she has. Most of the time hives clear up by themselves without the use of medication.
In cases of hives where serious allergic reactions are involved, causing the person to have difficulty breathing, the doctor may prescribe epinephrine. This is an emergency shot. Most of the time nurses give these shots. However, in severe cases, the patient is taught how to give himself the shot in case he or she ever needs it in a hurry.