Do Hives Require Medical Attention?

HivesHives usually erupt very suddenly, appearing as a series of dime-sized red welts on the skin. The irritation often spreads when scratched and can resolve in one location only to immediately reappear somewhere else. If several hives form in close proximity of each other, or coalesce, they can look much bigger and blotchier. Many people report intense itching, along with burning and stinging sensations. Most episodes last for a few minutes to a few hours. Because several other skin conditions can exhibit similar symptoms, successful treatment is contingent upon proper identification.

Hives can develop in response to several stimuli, including histamine released by the body during an allergic reaction. If you’ve been diagnosed with a food, medication, or insect venom allergy, and you experience hives after an obvious exposure to a known trigger, the best course of action is to follow the instructions previously provided by your physician regarding how to treat the symptoms and when to seek medical attention. Other common causes of hives include viral infections, intense physical activity, stress and nervousness, and exposure to temperature extremes, sunlight, and water.

If your hives are accompanied by any signs of anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition, you should immediately proceed to the nearest emergency room. Those signs include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Swollen lips, tongue, or face
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness

On the other hand, if your reaction is limited to skin symptoms, home treatment with over-the-counter antihistamines will likely be sufficient. When treating your hives, you should keep in mind that it can take up to an hour to see the effects of antihistamine medications. For further relief from the associated itching and inflammation, you can take a cool oatmeal bath, apply cold wet compresses, and wear smooth, loose-fitting cotton clothing.

If you would like to consult with a doctor about hives or other symptoms you are experiencing, please feel free to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are necessary at our walk-in clinic, where you will be seen by a doctor who is experienced in diagnosing and treating a variety of common health conditions.