Hives Overview


Chronic Hives

Chronic hives can be a real trial to people who suffer from them. Not only do chronic hives last for more than six weeks, they can last for months or even years. And even if they do go away, they're not necessarily gone forever. In fact, estimates say that 40 percent of people with chronic hives will have at least one more outbreak in their lives [source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology]. What's even more perplexing is that in more than 80 percent of cases, the cause of chronic hives is never discovered [source: Cleveland Clinic].

Even so, there are some tests you can take to try to solve the mystery of your chronic hives. As with acute hives, your doctor can order blood and allergy tests to determine a cause. Additional tests might be necessary to rule out any underlying conditions, such as thyroid disease, that could be causing your hives [source: Mayo Clinic].

If your doctor can't find the cause of your chronic hives, then the treatment will become more about managing your symptoms than about finding a cure [source: Saini]. You will probably start out by trying some of the oral antihistamines that typically are used to treat acute hives. If they don't work, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, tricyclic antidepressants or a combination of antihistamines and H2 antagonists. The immune suppressant cyclosporine, the allergic asthma medication omalizumab and leukotriene receptor antagonists are currently being studied as potential treatments for chronic hives [source: Mayo Clinic].

Whether your hives are chronic or acute, you don't have to endure them alone. If you're suffering from hives, make an appointment with a doctor who can help you identify causes and treatments that will work for you.

To learn more, visit the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Sources:

  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. "Tips to Remember: Allergic Skin Conditions." (8/4/09) http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/allergicskinconditions.stm
  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Urticaria - Hives." (8/4/09) http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/skin_urticaria.html
  • Best Health Magazine. "Natural Home Remedies: Hives." (8/4/09) http://www.besthealthmag.ca/get-healthy/home-remedies/natural-home-remedies-hives
  • Chauhan, Pradeep. "How to Treat Hives." American Chronicle. June 14, 2008. (8/4/09) http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/65017
  • Cleveland Clinic. "Urticaria (Hives) and Angioedema." (8/4/09) http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/hives_urticaria/hic_urticaria_hives_and_angioedema.aspx
  • Dharmananda, Subhuti. "An Introduction to Acupuncture and How It Works." Institute for Traditional Medicine (8/4/09) http://www.itmonline.org/arts/acuintro.htm
  • How Stuff Works. "Home Remedies for Hives." (8/4/09) https://health.howstuffworks.com/home-remedies-for-hives.htm
  • Mayo Clinic. "Chronic Hives (urticaria). (8/4/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-hives/DS00980
  • Mayo Clinic. "Hives and Angioedema." (8/4/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hives-and-angioedema/DS00313
  • Riedl, Marc, MD. "Are There Any Effective Ways to Treat Hives Using Alternative Medicine?" ABC News. February 27, 2008. (8/4/09) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesOther/story?id=4521900
  • Saini, Sarbjit Singh, MD. "Can Hives Be Cured?" ABC News. February 27, 2008. (8/4/09) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesOther/story?id=4521897
  • Saini, Sarbjit Singh, MD. "Is It True That I Am Allergic to Foods Because I Have Hives?" ABC News. February 27, 2008. (8/4/09) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesOther/story?id=4521886
  • Saini, Sarbjit Singh, MD. "What Are Hives and What Causes Them?" ABC News. February 27, 2008. (8/4/09) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesOther/story?id=4521885
  • Saini, Sarbjit Singh, MD. "Why Do I Have to Carry an EpiPen if I Suffer from Hives?" ABC News. February 27, 2008. (8/4/09) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesOther/story?id=4521892
  • Saini, Sarbjit Singh, MD. "Why Do I Itch When I Get Hives?" ABC News. February 27, 2008. (8/4/09) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesOther/story?id=4521888
  • Saini, Sarbjit Singh, MD. "Why Do I Take Heartburn Medicines for Hives?" ABC News. February 27, 2008. (8/4/09) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesOther/story?id=4521891
  • Saini, Sarbjit Singh, MD. "Why Does a Hot Shower Make My Hives Worse?" ABC News. February 27, 2008. (8/4/09) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesOther/story?id=4521894
  • WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Hives (Uticaria and Agioedema)." (8/4/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/hives-urticaria-angioedema
  • WebMD. "Understanding Allergy and Hay Fever Medications." (8/4/09) http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/antihistamines
  • WebMD. "Understanding Hives -- the Basics." (8/4/09) http://www.webmd.com/allergies/understanding-hives-basics
  • WebMD. "Understanding Hives -- Treatment." (8/4/09) http://www.webmd.com/allergies/understanding-hives-treatment

More to Explore