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Diseases & Conditions

Urticaria (Hives)

Urticaria (hives) is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or patches on the skin. Hives may itch, burn or sting. They can appear anywhere on the body including the face, lips, tongue, throat or ears. They vary in size from that of a pencil eraser to that of a dinner plate, and can last for hours or days before fading away. It is closely related to angioedema, which is swelling beneath the skin. Angioedema of the throat, tongue or lungs can block the airways, making breathing difficult.

How is urticaria treated?

The most effective treatment for hives and angioedema is to identify the trigger and avoid contact with it. Antihistamines are usually prescribed to provide relief from symptoms. When antihistamines do not work, combination medications or corticosteroids may be prescribed.