If you have chronic hives, also known as chronic idiopathic urticaria, you are probably already familiar with the intense itching that often accompanies it. This common condition is characterized by welts that last for more than six weeks. The itching is often intense enough to disrupt your life, even your sleep.
It’s usually a chronic condition, so that means that you will likely face a recurrence. But you can learn how to manage it. In this post, the providers at the Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center explain more about chronic hives, including four ways you can treat them.
The differences between acute and chronic hives
Acute hives are usually a one-time thing. They start to go away on their own within about 24 hours but may last for up to 6 weeks. They often occur after a viral infection.
Chronic hives are visible for at least six weeks but can recur on a regular basis. Sometimes, you can have hives that persist for months or even years. There isn’t a known cause, which means it is idiopathic.
What are the symptoms of chronic hives?
Chronic hives may be caused by several different factors, including medication allergies or food allergies. They’re often associated with other autoimmune disorders. Some of the symptoms of hives include the following:
- Batches of welts (also called wheals) on any part of your body that may be red, purple, or skin-colored, depending on your skin tone
- Itchiness, which may be intense
- Painful swelling around your lips, eyes, or cheeks
- Flare-ups triggered by stress, heat, or exercise
Hives do not usually have other symptoms such as anaphylaxis (swollen throat). If you have such a reaction, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Managing chronic hives
When you come in for a consultation, the first thing you may do is get a series of blood tests. This will help to confirm the diagnosis.
Here are four treatments for chronic hives the doctor may suggest.
Allergy medications or shots
Because many cases of hives are rooted in allergies, you might get relief from medications or allergy shots. Allergy shots block your body’s production of immunoglobulin E (or IgE), which can lead to hives or asthma.
You can take steroids to help reduce the inflammation associated with hives. Corticosteroids like prednisone can help if other allergy treatments haven’t worked.
This drug was initially developed as a treatment for malaria, but researchers have discovered that it’s helpful for 8 out of 10 people with autoimmune-associated hives when taken for at least 3 months.
This drug is an immune-suppressing medication. It’s highly effective in clearing up an outbreak of hives, but it can cause serious, negative effects if taken for too long.
Other at-home treatments you can try
In addition to the above treatments, you should do some self-care measures at home. These include the following:
- Wearing loose-fitting clothes in a natural, breathable fabric
- Taking a cool shower
- Applying an over-the-counter anti-itch cream
- Putting cool compresses on the itchy skin
- Using hypoallergenic lotions or creams
If you need professional help for your chronic hives, you should schedule a consultation. Contact the providers at the Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center today or request an appointment online.