Are Hives Contagious or Life-Threatening?

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Hives disappear just as quickly as they appear practically anywhere on your body including your face. They are red, itchy, and swollen welts that may be of varying sizes and join to form even larger welts. Although hives can last for a few hours or days, some can go on for months or even a lifetime. Are hives contagious? No, but they can be very uncomfortable and unsightly.

Hives that do not go away quickly are called chronic urticaria and, while they are neither contagious as mentioned nor even life threatening, they can be very inconvenient to have, primarily because they can be caused for numerous unknown reasons when the body’s immune system releases the chemical histamine into the skin.

Hives appear as a response to this release of histamine.

What Happens When Histamine is Released?

What Happens When Histamine is ReleasedHistamine can be found in some white blood cells (“mast cells”) abundant in skin around the capillaries and when triggered and released, causes cells in the blood vessels to contract and allow fluid to seep out since the red blood cells are much too large to get out of the “holes.” Histamine release cause fluid leakage that produces a certain kind of redness, a “hive,” and the redness or flare around it.

Hives don’t usually appear on the soles of feet or the palms of hands but they can appear in throve elsewhere on practically all parts of the body. Hives can affect virtually any race, gender or age and at any time. Hives occur in up to 20% of the human population at one point or another. They can either be chronic or acute depending on how long they remain present on skin.

What Causes Hives?

Although experts can tell you how to get rid of rashes that come with hives, not even they can pinpoint what causes this skin condition. Acute urticaria can last less than a month and a half and is believed to be triggered by allergies to certain foods, insect bites or medications. Chronic urticaria lasts over six weeks or even more without its cause being identified; this is also referred to as CIU or chronic idiopathic urticaria.

A Severe Form of Hives

Angioedema, on the other hand, is a severe form of hives in which swelling occurs not on the skin’s surface but beneath it. Found in around 30% of the adult population with existing chronic urticaria, angioedema is characterized primarily by a deep swelling either around the lips or the eyes. Physical triggers cause Physical Urticaria including the following:

  • Emotional stress.
  • Alcohol.
  • Physical exercise or exertion.
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures of heat and cold.

Physical urticaria appears where skin is directly stimulated and appears in an hour after an exposure. People who have pressure urticarial, for instance, will develop hives on particular parts of their bodies which have stimulated continuously by physical pressure while those with cholinergic urticarial will get hives which are caused by emotional stress, heat or exercise.

Diagnosing Chronic Urticaria

A complete physical examination and an updated medical history are required for a doctor to diagnose your condition correctly. The doctor has to determine whether what you have is a chronic case of hives and not the symptoms of a more serious medical condition such as hyperthyroidism or hepatitis before he/she can get to solutions on how to get rid of hives fast.

Identify and Avoid the Trigger

After ruling out such symptoms, the doctor can start to isolate anything that could have been the cause of your allergic reaction that triggered the hives. As mentioned, an exact cause cannot always be determined. If the medical history or the physical exam does not indicate what causes the hives, the patient is usually asked to monitor all activities he/she undertakes including anything that he/she ingests.

In some cases, the patient is placed on a diet that eliminates specific types of food that may be causing the urticaria. No matter how red, swollen or itchy hives have become for the patient, the only means to alleviate any pain or discomfort is to identify and simply avoid the trigger, albeit this is actually easier said than done. Not knowing the exact cause of a condition can lead to touch-and-go situations.

H1 and H2 Antihistamines

AntihistaminesFortunately, medications are typically used to prevent possible breakouts or control symptoms when the cause of the condition is unknown. The front line treatment for hives would be antihistamines of the H1 non-sedating kind such as loratadine, cetirizine, and fexofenadine. These are capable of blocking H1 receptors, making them highly effective in reducing symptoms with few reports of adverse side effects.

H2 antihistamines like ranitidine or cimetidine is added when their H1 counterparts prove to be ineffective. H2 antihistamines are capable of blocking H2 receptors. For severe cases of hives, however, more potent forms of antihistamines are prescribed such as doxepin and diphenhydramine. Both, howeber, can cause drowsiness as well as other side effects.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are prescribed when neither H1 nor H2 antihistamines work. An injectable or oral corticosteroid may be given to a patient to relieve a chronic urticaria episode that has become unresponsive to antihistamines but because prolonged or constant use of corticosteroids may be hazardous to health, they are usually prescribed in the lowest possible dosage and for a very short period only.

Other Therapies

Other therapies might include an epinephrine injection when the patient’s throat has become swollen. This can be a possible life-threatening condition as the patient may have difficulty in breathing. Those who have existing CIU may also be prescribed omalizumab, the first biologic medicine that was actually approved for use to treat people with CIU and remain symptomatic even after antihistamine therapy.

Get Rid of Hives Now

Yet another therapy is the application of topical cream for hives, cold compresses, and therapeutic bathing. All of these can help calm and soothe hives when they flare up. Still, if you would rather have an all-natural urticaria treatment that does not have chemicals or medication involved, you may want to consider Paulette Joynt’s Get Rid of Hives, a set of protocols that come in eBook and instructional video.

Check out the official Get Rid of Hives website and find out how it can help you get rid of your hives successfully and permanently to boot. Get more information on how to order, avail of the $10 discount off the product price if you purchase it today, read the testimonials of those who have benefited from the product, and enjoy the risk-free full money back guarantee of 60 days before you make a final purchase decision.