Help, I’m break­ing out in hives! What’s caus­ing them— and what can I do?

Women's Health (Malaysia) - - ASK ANYTHING -

—Edna Hives, a col­lec­tion of red, of­ten itchy (but other­wise harm­less) welts on the skin, can erupt within min­utes or up to sev­eral hours af­ter ex­po­sure to a trig­ger—which can make it tough to fig­ure out the cause. The most fre­quent ones in­clude al­ler­gic re­ac­tions to med­i­ca­tions (es­pe­cially the peni­cillin fam­ily of an­tibi­otics, mus­cle re­lax­ants, opi­ates, as­pirin and ibupro­fen); foods, most of­ten fish, tree nuts, shell­fish or just con­tact with cer­tain raw fruits or raw seafood (even if you weren’t al­ler­gic to them be­fore); in­sect bites, like bed­bugs, mites, fleas and bees; and la­tex (gloves or con­doms). Less com­mon causes in­clude phys­i­cal stim­uli like heat, cold and pres­sure ap­plied to the skin, or in­creased body heat due to ex­er­cise, hot baths or even strong emo­tions.

If you think an al­lergy is to blame, your doc­tor can do al­lergy test­ing. Still have no idea? Don’t panic: Welts usu­ally go away on their own within 24 hours, and to re­lieve the itch, you can ap­ply cool com­presses or take an over-the-counter an­ti­his­tamine. If you haven’t found the trig­ger and your hives last for more than six weeks, see your doc­tor. It could still be a more be­nign cause, but she can look into other causes like celiac dis­ease, hy­pothy­roidism and lu­pus.

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