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Itching to Get to the Bottom of Acute or Chronic Hives? Check Out this Video

You’re Not Alone. Tri-State Child Health Services Featured Dr. Mathur on this Common and Manageable Condition

We see a lot of acute and chronic hives, and we know that the doctors at Tri-State Child Health Services, Cincinnati’s Pediatric Physician Hospital Organization, do as well. That’s why they asked our own Dr. Mathur to provide some brief education in a video shared through their newsletter.

Dr. Mathur Describes Two Categories of Hives

Hives are those red, raised, migratory, and very itchy bumps you might see pop up on your skin occasionally. They occur when something causes mast cells (tissue cells of the immune system throughout the connective tissues of the body that mediate inflammatory responses) to activate, degranulate, and release histamine. Histamine is a major chemical that aggravates your skin in the form of hives.

Acute Hives

Acute hives, by definition, occur suddenly and last fewer than six weeks. These can become chronic hives, but often they resolve on their own or with our help.

The causes of this type of hives are external. There are many things that can trigger acute hives, for example:

  • Viral infection
  • Some medications
  • Food allergies
  • Contact or environmental exposure (e.g. grass, pets, laundry detergent)

Chronic Hives

Chronic hives are recurring on most days over the course of six weeks or more. They are internally driven, with no external trigger. This is a spontaneous activation by autoantibodies against certain receptors in or on the mast cells.

This adds insult to injury for many. In addition to the itching, people feel great frustration and worry that they are doing something wrong to cause chronic hives. We do know that they can be related to stress, but there is nothing external to avoid to keep chronic hives at bay.

How to Diagnose and Treat Acute and Chronic Hives

Hives are common, and they can be so itchy that they affect your quality of life. No one likes to see that! Here are some of the steps involved in helping patients with hives:

  1. Discuss patient history to discover the possible causes of acute or chronic hives
  2. Diagnose any possible viral infection, which is quite common
  3. Test to determine the external triggers (food or environmental allergies) that may be causing acute hives
  4. Recommend allergens to avoid altogether and/or environmental allergens to limit
  5. Treat with medication, often a second-generation antihistamine called cetirizine (a histamine blocker) to help relieve allergy symptoms including hives
  6. Follow up to confirm if acute hives have progressed to a chronic stage
  7. Longer-term monitoring and symptom management for chronic hives

Hear Directly from the Doctor

To learn more, read our hives page. If you still have questions after reading this article and/or watching the video, or if you are experiencing hives yourself, please do not hesitate to contact us for an appointment or call us at (513) 671-6707 to ask questions.

Thanks again to Tri-State Child Health Services for featuring Dr. Mathur in their newsletter!

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