Hives is a skin rash that breaks out when you have an allergic reason to something. Known in the medical field as “urticaria,” hives outbreaks may be brought on by consuming certain foods, being stung by certain insects, by taking certain medications, or just by being around certain chemicals. In some cases, extreme temperatures can even result in a hives outbreak. Hives can appear anywhere on the body, and may vary in severity. Some hives outbreaks only last hours or a day, while chronic hives can last for over 6 weeks.
While it’s important to be wary of hives outbreaks, it is also important not to jump to the conclusion that you have hives every time you break out into a rash. Make sure to know what symptoms to look out for, so you can tell if what you are experiencing is hives or something else.
How to Tell the Difference Between Hives and Other Types of Skin Rashes
- Your skin has broken out in an itching, swelling rash: This is a trademark sign of hives. While you should still consult with an experienced medical professional for confirmation, a persistent itchy rash is the hallmark of almost any hives outbreak.
- Your skin has broken out in fluid-filled blisters and bumps: This is not hives. If this is what you are experiencing, think back to whether you have recently spent a lot of time outside in the sun. If you have, chances are what you’re experiencing is a heat rash. These occur as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun, and are often aggravated by clothing that blocks sweat ducts and causes friction. While more severe heat rashes can lead to infections, most clear up on their own, and can be treated by cooling the skin to prevent swelling.
- Your skin has broken out in blotchy red and white bumps or welts: This is likely hives, and chronic hives, to be specific. If you notice your skin is covered with bumps that have a red center and clear edges, you should seek treatment for hives as soon as possible.
- Your skin has broken out in a red rash that stings or burns: While this kind of rash might look similar to hives, chances are it’s actually contact dermatitis. Unlike hives, which can occur just from being around an allergen, this kind of rash does not occur unless you come in direct contact with a trigger. The biggest difference, however, is that where hives itch, contact dermatitis stings.
- The rash in your skin is moving: There is a good chance this is hives, as hives outbreaks often start in one area and spread somewhere else.
- Your face and cheeks are red and flushed: This is a condition known as rosacea. Unlike hives, this kind of rash is limited to your face, and usually affects the cheeks and forehead most. It’s characterized by redness and pimple-like bumps, and while it cannot be cured, it can be controlled with certain medications.
- You experienced a rash after eating something: There is a good chance this is hives, as so many hives rashes occur because someone ate or was exposed to something they are allergic to.
- Your skin is inflamed, dry, and scaly: While this condition may appear similar to hives, chances are it’s actually eczema. While the two rashes may look similar and may be found anywhere on the body, eczema is characterized by dry irritated skin, and is thought to be linked to an overactive immune system.
- Your rash has lasted at least 6 weeks: This is hard to say. While a rash lasting 6 or more weeks could easily be chronic hives, it could also be another skin problem, like pityriasis rosea. It is essential to seek medical help if you experience a rash that lasts this long, in order to mitigate the chance that it is something more serious.
In general, hives tend to be comprised of smaller bumps, making up a larger rash. Individual lesions and disparate pustules tend to signify something else altogether, which may require you to seek the assistance of a dermatologist.
Itchy Skin? Call Today.
If you have frequent skin rashes which you believe may be chronic hives, you should contact Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia today. Our board certified Georgia allergists provide experienced hives testing, and may be able to recommend treatments to help improve your condition.
Call now at (404) 994-3574, or fill out our contact form online. Same day appointments are available. Se habla español.