What are Hives

Hives are red, itchy, raised welts that form on the skin, usually caused by an allergic reaction.

Sometimes they may sting or hurt, but are usually only temporary, and usually go away on their own.


Common signs of hives include:

  • Patches of red or skin-colored welts on the skin
  • Welts that are small, large, or random sizes, anywhere on the body
  • Itching
  • Painful swelling of the eyelids, lips, and inside the throat


Hives can be caused by different things, and may be triggered (such as from an allergic reaction), or be chronic (as a result an underlying issue or stressor). Hives triggered by allergy will often go away once allergens are removed, or allergy medication is taken.

Chronic hives don’t have an easily identifiable cause, and can last week, months, or years, sometimes recurring
Hives from allergies may occur if you’re allergic to:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Foods
  • Insect bites or stings
  • Medications

Chronic hives are often harder to diagnose the cause, but causes may include:

  • Celiac disease
  • Lupus
  • Stress
  • Sunlight
  • Infection
  • Pressure on skin, such as tight clothing


If you can identify what’s triggering your hives, it will be helpful in effectively treating them. In cases such as an allergic reaction, depending on the severity, the hives should clear up once you avoid the allergens. In more severe cases, particularly if the hives are itchy or painful, medications can be used.

When it comes to chronic hives where the cause isn’t exactly known, speaking to a doctor is the best option. So, they can help determine the cause, and rule out anything more serious.

When to See a Medical Doctor

If you’re experiencing a severe allergic reaction, and you’re having trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency medical provider immediately.

Most of the time, however, hives are more uncomfortable than they are dangerous. If you have hives that last longer than a few days, and are particularly painful, itchy, or uncomfortable, speak to a doctor.

A doctor will be able to properly asses the hives, make sure nothing more serious is happening, and recommend the best treatment for your needs.