How to treat hives

Urticaria, commonly known as hives, is an outbreak of red and prickly bumps that appear on the skin.

It could occur due to certain allergies and unknown reasons.

The rash may vary in size and causes severe itching and burning.

It may appear on any part of the body - face, hands, legs, lips, tongue, ears or throat.

The swelling of the lips, eyelids and genitals can be painful, while an appearance on the throat can cause breathlessness.

Depending on the severity of the condition, it may last for a few hours or fade away after the reaction runs its course.

Urticaria occurs when the body reacts to the release of histamine, which is found in the cells, into the bloodstream.

Inflammation is caused when fluid accumulates under the skin. These are called "hives" or "welts".

The common triggers are: lReaction to medication such as antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and vaccines lInsect stings lChange in temperature or extreme temperature lFood - shellfish, nuts, wheat products, additives, cow milk protein. lSecondary infections l Exposure to sunlight lPollen and dust mites lStress lAnimal-related allergies lChronic illness like thyroid Treatment "Hives are treated using anti-histamines, which nullify the effect, for a few weeks," said Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, consultant dermatologist at the Fortis Hospital in Mumbai.

Chronic hives are generally treated using anti-histamines or a combination of medications.

To reduce the irritation caused by urticaria, wear loose or light clothing.

Avoid scratching and aggravating the condition.

Avoid common triggers such as dust, dirt, weeds, wool, sweating, dryness of skin and excessive protein in foods.

Bathe with tepid water (neither too hot nor too cold) and oil and stay away from harsh soap detergents.

Compress the area with cold water or apply moisturising lotion to soothe it.

Foods that are known to trigger histamine production include fish, dairy products, processed items, chocolate, spinach and strawberries.

Avoid these.

It is important to seek emergency medical care if you experience breathlessness, dizziness, swelling in the lips and tongue or tightness in the chest.

Indo-Asian News Service

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