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Hives Treatment St. Louis

Patient's back with raised red welts, indicative of hives

Hives, also known as urticaria, is an itchy rash characterized by the sudden appearance of raised, red welts on the skin.

Understanding the potential triggers and appropriate management strategies for hives is essential for helping you deal with this frustrating, itchy condition. Our dermatologists at Mid-County Dermatology can help calm this itchy rash - please text or call us at 314-994-0200 or schedule online now. 

Recognizing Symptoms of Hives

Hives are characterized by raised, itchy welts on the skin. These pink or red swellings can appear anywhere on the body and vary in size and shape. They may range from small bumps to larger areas of swelling. 

Hives can develop rapidly, with new ones appearing as old ones fade away. Most hives last less than 24 hours and do not leave behind any pigmentation or bruising of the skin. This cycle can continue for days or even weeks. Acute cases of hives are typically less than 6 weeks, whereas chronic hives last longer than 6 weeks. In some cases, hives might be accompanied by other symptoms such as tongue or lip swelling, lightheadedness, dizziness, or trouble breathing.

What Causes Hives? 

1. Common causes of hives include:

  • Allergic reactions to food (peanuts, shellfish, certain fruits), medications (antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen), insect bites/stings

  • Infections like the common cold or flu

2. Physical triggers that can induce hives:

  • Pressure (dermatographism)

  • Heat (cholinergic urticaria)

  • Cold (cold-induced urticaria)

3. Underlying medical conditions:

  • Autoimmune disorders like lupus, and thyroid diseases (Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves' disease) linked to chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU)

4. Other triggers:

  • Stress, emotional stressors like anxiety and tension

  • Hormone changes

These factors cause the release of histamine and other chemicals from mast cells in the skin, leading to redness, swelling, and the characteristic hive rash.

Hives Treatment in St. Louis

Topical Treatments for Hives

Topical creams or ointments containing corticosteroids are often used to reduce itching and inflammation caused by hives. These medications can be applied directly to the affected skin areas, providing some relief from discomfort and helping to minimize the appearance of hives. For example, hydrocortisone cream is a common over-the-counter option that can help soothe irritated skin.

These topical treatments work by reducing swelling, redness, and itching in the affected areas. They provide targeted relief without affecting the entire body, making them an effective choice for managing localized hives outbreaks. They are easy to apply and are readily available at pharmacies without requiring a prescription. Other options that perhaps work better include topical pramoxine which is found over-the-counter as Sarna or CeraVe Anti-Itch. Dr. Feigenbaum doesn't recommend topical Benadryl due to the high rate of sensitivity leading to another itchy rash called allergic contact dermatitis.

Oral Medications for Hives

In addition to topical treatments, oral medications, such as antihistamines, play a crucial role in managing hives symptoms. Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine in the body, which helps alleviate itching and reduces other symptoms associated with hives. Commonly prescribed antihistamines include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), and fexofenadine (Allegra). Dr. Feigenbaum typically prescribed oral Zyrtec 10mg every morning as an initial treatment for hives. These oral medications offer widespread relief throughout the body, reducing itching and suppressing new outbreaks. 

Emergency Treatment for Severe Hives

In severe cases where individuals experience anaphylactic reactions due to hives—such as difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, or swelling of the throat—an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) may be necessary for immediate treatment. This life-saving device delivers a dose of epinephrine into the body during emergencies when an individual is experiencing a severe allergic reaction. The prompt administration of epinephrine can help reverse potentially life-threatening symptoms associated with anaphylaxis caused by hives. It provides individuals with critical time before seeking further medical attention at a hospital or urgent care facility.

Once again, if you develop hives that are accompanied by difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, or dizziness, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly. These symptoms could indicate a severe allergic reaction, which requires immediate treatment in an emergency room.

How can I prevent hives?

Eliminating Triggers of Hives

Hives can often be triggered by certain foods, medications, or environmental factors. By identifying and avoiding these triggers, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of experiencing hives. For example, if someone knows that they are allergic to shellfish and it causes them to break out in hives, they can proactively avoid consuming such food items.

Avoiding exposure to known allergens is a crucial step in preventing hives. This includes being mindful of any new medications being introduced into their routine as well as paying attention to any changes in their environment that could potentially trigger an outbreak.

Lifestyle Adjustments To Reduce Hives

Wearing loose-fitting clothing is another practical measure that can help minimize irritation and lower the risk of developing hives. Tight clothing can rub against the skin, causing friction and leading to hives. Using mild soaps, like Dove or Cetaphil, when bathing or washing hands also contributes to reducing skin irritation, which may help prevent the onset of hives.

In addition to these measures, managing stress levels plays a significant role in preventing recurrent episodes of hives. Stress has been identified as a potential trigger for hives; therefore, employing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or seeking counseling may aid in managing stress levels effectively.

Your Guide to Hives Relief in St. Louis: Closing Thoughts

Understanding the symptoms, causes, and available hives treatment options in St. Louis is crucial for managing this condition effectively. By recognizing the signs early and implementing preventive measures, individuals can minimize the impact of hives on their daily lives. It's important to seek medical attention from our dermatology team promptly if experiencing severe symptoms or if hives persist for an extended period.

At Mid-County Dermatology, our team of experienced hives specialists in St. Louis is dedicated to providing comprehensive care and personalized hives treatment plans. We understand the potential complications and discomfort associated with chronic hives and work closely with our patients to find effective solutions for long-lasting relief.

For those dealing with hives, please schedule online with our dermatology team - we can work together to control your hives and minimize their occurrence and symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common symptoms of hives?

Hives typically present as raised, red welts on the skin that can be itchy or painful. They may vary in size and shape and often appear suddenly. In some cases, they may change shape, disappear, and reappear within a short period.

What are the main causes of chronic hives?

Chronic hives can be triggered by various factors including certain foods, medications, insect stings, infections, stress, or underlying health conditions. Identifying and addressing these triggers is crucial for managing chronic hives effectively.

When should one seek medical attention for hives?

If someone experiences severe hives that persist for more than a few days despite using over-the-counter antihistamines or if they are accompanied by difficulty breathing or swallowing, it's essential to seek immediate medical attention to rule out any serious complications.

Are there lifestyle adjustments that can help manage hives?

Making lifestyle changes such as avoiding known triggers like certain foods or environmental factors (e.g., heat or sunlight), maintaining a healthy diet, and stress management techniques can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of hives outbreaks.

How do allergic reactions linked to hives differ from other types of allergies?

Allergic reactions associated with hives typically manifest as raised welts on the skin along with itching. It's important to differentiate between different types of allergic reactions as this impacts treatment approaches and preventive measures tailored toward managing each individual's condition.

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