Urticaria, or hives, is a skin condition that produces bumps on the skin. The bumps are typically raised, red, and confined to a specific area of the body. Hives typically appear suddenly and they develop most often when the skin is exposed to an allergen. The bumps may also appear in response to stress. The red bumps are itchy and they can sometimes sting or feel sensitive to the touch. While most hives show up on the arms, neck, chest, or abdomen, they can appear almost anywhere. Ear, lip, eyelid, tongue, and even throat hives are not uncommon.
Hives appear when the body releases histamine into the bloodstream. Histamine is a chemical that the immune system creates to help rid the body of an allergen. Histamines cause inflammation, help your body create mucus, and cause the eyes to produce tears. It also causes your skin to feel itchy. When hives form, the histamine forces plasma to release from the blood and it starts pooling underneath the skin. This causes the red bumps to form and they can last as long as six weeks. This is called an acute case of urticaria.
Since most hives form due to an allergic reaction, the bumps will show up on your skin when you come into contact with an allergen. Contact allergies can cause the hives to form, and this is likely if you use a lotion, eyeshadow, body wash, or even a hand soap that contains an ingredient that you are allergic too. It can be hard to pinpoint a specific allergen, but certain fragrances, coloring agents, essential oils, and flavorings are often the culprit. Additives like formaldehyde, alcohol, solvents, and surfactants can cause allergic reactions as well.
Metal allergies can cause hives to form too, and nickel is one metal used in jewelry that will produce hives in some people. If you notice the red bumps in an area where you have worn a piece of cosmetic jewelry or where you have recently used a new lotion or other cosmetic, then you can probably pinpoint the allergen fairly easily. However, sometimes a medication or a food can cause hives to develop. Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and high blood pressure medicines are some common medicines that can trigger hives. Nuts, fish, tomatoes, berries, and eggs are a few food allergens that can cause the bumps too.
If you have an acute case of hives that lasts for a few weeks, then you can safely treat the skin condition at home. However, you should understand that hives may appear again if you expose your body to the allergen.
If you have not figured out the allergy trigger just yet, then it is wise to do this first so you can determine which food, chemical, metal, or product you need to stay away from. You may need to go through a process of elimination to figure this out. Stop using beauty products or wearing jewelry that you have recently purchased.
You can also remove one food from your diet each week to see if this helps to reduce your hives. For example, stop eating eggs for one week and then cut nuts out of your diet the next week.
Once you figure out the trigger, you can start taking an oral antihistamine drug and you can also spread an antihistamine cream on your skin where the hives are present. If you cannot figure out the cause of the hives, then it is possible that you are allergic to multiple things.
This can make it difficult to pinpoint a specific cause of the hives. You can seek out assistance from an allergist if this is the case. An allergy specialist will complete blood or skin tests to find your allergen.