Hives, or urticaria, are red, itchy bumps on the skin's surface caused by the release of histamine as part of an immune system reaction. Approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population will experience an episode of hives at least once in their lives. Acute cases of hives are often caused by allergies to drugs, food or latex, or by a viral infection. Some people suffer from chronic, almost daily hives for months or years.Lahey allergists will attempt to identify the source of your symptoms. Then, depending on the outcome and the severity of your condition, they will prescribe a treatment plan that could include antihistamines, eliminating the source/trigger and occasionally, with chronic hives, an oral corticosteroid.Angioedema is a swelling in the deeper layers of the skin that sometimes occurs with hives. It can involve the eyelids, mouth, hands and feet, and may cause difficulties with swallowing or breathing.
Some substances - such as chemicals and poison ivy and other plants - cause reactions when they come into contact with the skin. Allergic contact dermatitis can be distinguished from irritant dermatitis in that it occurs primarily where the offending substance touched the skin. Treatment for allergic contact dermatitis typically includes topical corticosteroid creams, cold soaks and compresses and, when larger areas of the body are affected, oral corticosteroids.
Atopic dermatitis is a common allergic reaction characterized by a scaly, bubbly and itchy rash that often affects the face, elbows and knees. Although typical in young infants, this condition can also occur in adults, especially those with a personal or family history of asthma or hay fever. Allergies to foods such as milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts and fish play an important role in eczema in infants and toddlers. Allergy to dust mites, animal dander and other allergens can aggravate eczema in older children and adults. Other triggers can include sweating, contact with irritants such as pets or wool, and emotional stress. Your Lahey health care providers will help you identify the cause of your eczema and provide education and treatment options such as eliminating the trigger(s), applying cold compresses, lubricating the skin and applying topical corticosteroid creams.