Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic

Allergists, Asthma Specialists, & Immunologists located in the Pacific Region

Hives, clinically known as urticaria, are itchy, raised, red welts that occur when your body reacts to an allergen. The expert physicians and staff at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic offer expert diagnosis and treatment for hives at their 13 convenient Pacific Region offices in Fremont, Oakland, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, San Mateo, and San Leandro, California; Clackamas and Gresham, Oregon; Bellevue, Fishers Landing, Longview, and Salmon Creek, Washington; and Eagle, Idaho. If you or your child breaks out in hives, call Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic or make an appointment online today.

Hives Q & A

What are hives?

If you’ve ever endured hives, you know itchy these raised, red skin welts can be. Known medically as urticaria, hives can be as small as the tip of a pen or as large as a dinner plate. You may have one hive or break out with several, and they may even connect to each other. 

Hives usually last less than 24 hours, although new hives may appear as old ones fade. Typically, breakouts of hives last for a few days. However, if you have a breakout that lingers for six weeks or more, you have chronic hives. 

What causes hives?

In most cases, hives are an allergic reaction. When you come into contact with a substance — known as an allergen — your immune system goes into overdrive, releasing histamines to fight off the perceived threat. The histamines trigger hives or other signs of an allergic reaction. Some of the common triggers for hives include:

  • Foods such as citrus fruits, milk, eggs, peanuts, and shellfish
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Animal dander
  • Pollen
  • Latex
  • Certain chemicals
  • Medicines 

You may also break out in hives when you’re stressed or after exercise or sun exposure. Further, hives can develop as a side effect of some bacterial and fungal infections. 

How is the cause of hives diagnosed?

The team at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic offers a comprehensive range of allergy testing, including skin pricks, patch tests, intradermal tests, and food challenges. All tests use only small, diluted amounts of suspected allergens. 

Nonetheless, all testing is carried out in a closely supervised environment in case of an unexpectedly severe reaction. 

How are hives treated?

Following your testing and diagnosis, your Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic doctor designs a customized treatment plan to address your hives. Your treatment plan combines therapies to optimize the effectiveness and reduce or eliminate your hives breakouts. For example, your program may include:

  • Oral immunotherapy
  • Sublingual immunotherapy
  • Ultrasound-guided immunotherapy
  • Avoidance strategies

Your doctor can also prescribe creams and ointments to soothe your hives, and also medicines to reduce your risk of skin infections from excessive scratching. 

If you or your child is troubled by hives, call Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic or make an appointment online today.