Hives, also known as urticaria, is a condition that affects over 20 percent of the population at some point in their lifetime. Hives is an outbreak of wheals (plaques) or reddish bumps on the skin that tend to itch, sting, or burn, and can appear on any part of the body. Hives vary in size and may connect to form large patches called plaques which can last for hours, up to one day.
Getting hives can be pretty irritating and unpleasant, but you want to make sure you know how you got it in order to receive proper treatment. There are several causes of hives, so if you’re interested in knowing more, scroll down and check out the most common triggers that cause hives.
We all know that peanuts cause allergic reactions among a large portion of the society, that some people are allergic to strawberries, and eggs, that milk causes diarrhea among the lactose intolerant individuals, and that beans give you gas, but we should also be aware that certain types of foods can cause the outburst of hives. Most people will experience an allergic reaction to food at some point in life, and those reactions can be quite harmless and mild, or, at some cases severe and serious.
The first step is determining which foods cause the most cases of hives outbreaks. The most common foods that cause hives are tomatoes, nuts, eggs, chocolate, soy, milk, fish, fresh berries, wheat and other gluten grains, and shellfish. It is more likely that hives would be caused by fresh foods than the cooked versions, and certain food additives and preservatives may also be the culprit of the allergic reaction.
As if the pesky insect stings and bites weren’t troublesome enough because of the pain and itching they cause, in some cases they can also start up the outburst of hives. If an individual is specifically prone to allergic reactions caused by insect bites or stings, the likelihood of developing mild or more severe hives is quite high. Insects that sting such as bees, wasps, hornets, and such, inject a small portion of their venom into the victim, thus causing an allergic reaction which, if untreated, can have fatal consequences. Furthermore, insects that bite such as spiders, mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs, and mites leave a bit of their saliva on the skin of the bitten individual, causing irritation and a possible allergic reaction.
To avoid insect-bite-caused hives, try protecting yourself with light-colored clothing when you spend time outdoors, avoid strong fragrances, and wear proper shoes that cover your ankles. Also, wearing long sleeved shirts and long trousers, and washing hands after eating sweet and sticky foods can help the insects stay away from you and hopefully find another victim to bother.
Certain drugs can cause hives as well. How it usually happens is, when the drug enters the body of the patient the immune system mistakenly recognizes it as something bad and creates special disease-fighting antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE’s see the drug as a foreign object that needs to be eliminated from the body, and once the medicine is taken again, the IgE antibodies release great amounts of histamine in order to expel the foreign substance from the body.
Medicines that could create an allergic reaction include aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen, certain high blood pressure medications, and painkillers such as codeine, and of course, penicillin.
Interestingly enough, loving your dog too much may result in you getting the hives. Pet dander is comprised of microscopic flecks of skin that dogs, cats, birds, and other animals shed, and it can cause reactions in people who are prone to allergies. As the hives are a byproduct of histamine, they can be, in some cases, treated by removing the trigger and taking a simple antihistamine. Anti-itch lotions and steroid creams usually help; however, the most painful part is the high probability of you having to find a new home for your beloved pet.
Latex is a quite common component of various dental and medicinal supplies, as well as some other simple household objects such as condoms, wound dressings, handbags, balloons, tires, rubber toys, pacifiers, various tools, and baby bottles. A simple blowing up of a rubber balloon can cause an allergic reaction, but luckily, it is easily avoidable. Simply refrain from using any latex-containing products and you should be fine.
Bacterial and Viral Infections
Bacterial infections such as strep throat and urinary tract infections can be the cause of hives, especially in children who will often develop the allergic reaction when the bacterial infection is diagnosed. Additionally, viral infections such as hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis, and a simple common cold can also trigger the hives in both children and adults. This hives type can be linked to the infection itself, or to the combination of the infection and the medicine taken to treat it.
Hives can be caused by the direct physical stimulation of the skin. This type of hives is called physical urticaria and can occur upon the exposure to heat, cold, to the sun rays and vibration, as well as pressure, exercising, and sweating. This type usually occurs locally, right on the stimulated area, and rarely spread over the entire body. In most cases, the hives appear about an hour after exposure or stimulation.
A fairly common type of hives is dermatographism, also known as skin writing, which happens when you firmly stroke or scratch the skin. Skin writing is seen in about 5 percent of the population and is quite common. Contrary to popular belief, dermatographic urticaria is not caused by the object scratching the skin, but the lone act of scratching is responsible for the appearance of wheals.
In the case of dermatographism, the histamine is released by the mast cells on the skin surface, causing the swelling in the affected areas. In most cases the swelling reduces after about 15 minutes with no treatment, but in some extreme cases it can last for days.
Thyroid disease, cancer, infection
In some cases, hives can last more than six weeks, which means that the cause of this type is substantially more difficult, if not impossible, to identify. However, professionals have agreed that hives can be caused by other underlying diseases such as various infections and types of cancer, as well as the thyroid disease.
This chronic urticaria and angioedema is definitely more serious that your typical case of hives as it can affect not only the skin, but other parts of the body as well, such as the muscles, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. In these cases, patients usually report vomiting, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and muscle soreness, and should be treated professionally.