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What are hives?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Hives are itchy, red bumps on the skin. They can be different sizes, and they may come and go over time. Hives are an allergic reaction to something your body considers to be an irritant.

Called urticaria, hives are an allergic reaction. It's rarely clear what triggers hives. They can be stress-related. These pink, itchy swellings are caused by the release of histamine and other chemicals in the skin. Eggs, chocolate, seafood, nuts, milk and medications are occasional triggers of hives for some people, as are exposure to cold temperatures or infections. Individual hive lesions generally fade in 24 hours or less. When hives develop in the throat, breathing can become difficult and may be life threatening; in this case, immediate treatment is required.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.