Hives are usually an allergic reaction to food or medicine. They are raised, often itchy red welts on the surface of the skin.
When you have an allergic reaction to a substance, histamine and other chemicals are released into your bloodstream, causing itching, swelling and other symptoms.
Hives are a common reaction, especially in people with other allergies like hay fever.
When swelling or welts occur around the face, especially the lips and eyes, it is called angioedema; swelling from angioedema can also occur around your hands, feet and throat.
Many substances can trigger hives:
- Animal dander (especially cats)
- Insect bites
- Shellfish, fish and other foods
Hives may also develop from
- Emotional stress
- Excessive perspiration
- Extreme cold or sun exposure
- Infections like mononucleosis or illness (including lupus, other autoimmune diseases and leukemia)
- Swelling of the surface of the skin into red or skin colored welts (called wheals) with clearly defined edges.
- The welts may enlarge, spread, and join together to form larger areas of the flat, raised skin. They can also appear within minutes or hours. The welts tend to start suddenly and resolve quickly. When you press the center of a red welt, it blanches or turns white.
Treatment may not be needed if the hives are mild. They may disappear on their own.
To reduce itching and swelling:
Apply cool compresses to the welts. This may reduce swelling and pain.
If a large part of your body is affected, soak in a cool bath. Avoid hot baths or showers.
Especially in chronic cases, allergies to foods and food additives are a common cause of hives.
Citrus fruits are among those foods most commonly reported to trigger hives.
Numerous clinical studies demonstrate that diets that are free of foods that commonly trigger allergic reactions typically produce significant reductions in symptoms in 50 to 75 percent of people with chronic hives.
People with hives should investigate the possibility that food allergies are causing their problems.
Food allergies typically indicate an extreme deficiency of the nutrients in those foods.
The body reacts violently trying to get to them. Small, sometimes infinitely small amounts of the food or just exposure of them to skin can help to resolve the allergic response.