Lasting 6 weeks or longer, chronic hives causes red, raised welts on the skin that may be pea-sized or massed together to form large blotches. There is no visual difference between acute hives (lasting less than 6 weeks) and chronic hives (also known as chronic urticaria). Extreme chronic cases have persisted for more than 20 years.
Many people who suffer from hives for a long period of time end up visiting specialist after specialist, only to be told that the cause cannot be identified. This makes chronic urticaria very frustrating, not only for the patient, but also for the dermatologist.
In addition to the discomfort of the itchy, red patches, chronic hives causes embarrassment and anxiety due to appearance changes.
It is estimated that only about 5% of chronic hives patients are able to successfully identify the trigger. Chronic hives causes may be identified at a doctor's office through a combination of a physical, urine sample, blood test, and possibly a skin biopsy. In some cases, the cause is determined to be an underlying disease or disorder, such as a thyroid problem, liver problem, or sinus infection. Sometimes the cause is linked to an allergic reaction triggered by a food (such as wheat or nuts) or drug (such as aspirin or ibuprofen).
It is thought that up to half of chronic hives cases are due to a hypersensitive immune system. Called "autoimmune urticaria," this type of chronic hives causes the body's immune system to attack normal, healthy tissues.
To avoid the discomfort that chronic hives causes, patients should try to eliminate any triggers that appear to coincide with outbreaks. However, in up to 95% of cases, chronic hives causes are never identified. This type of hives is referred to as "idiopathic," a medical term that means there is no understandable cause.
Some studies have shown a link between emotional stress and long-term hives. If your case of hives has lasted for longer than six weeks, and you have a high level of stress or anxiety, try to implement a stress management plan by:
There are several treatment options:
Although many cases of hives go away on their own within a few hours, chronic urticaria may not resolve itself on its own. You should see a doctor to make sure there is no underlying disease causing your chronic hives.
If you have any questions on the red, raised welts or other symptoms that chronic hives causes, please write to us.
Disclaimer, Copyright and Privacy Notice