Signs and Symptoms
1. Itchy, reddish or brown swellings on the skin (called weals). Each swelling may range in size from a nib of a pen to a diameter of 10 inches.
2. Weals that occur in groups.
3. A weal with a whitish center, rimmed by red rashes.
4. Weals that itch or burn. New ones may develop as the old ones fade.
5. Swelling on the lips, tongue, eyelids, or genitals. Swelling may also occur on the backs of the hands and feet.
What to do now
1. Take an antihistamine to reduce your allergic reaction and relieve discomfort.
2. Soothe your skin with cold compresses or calamine lotion.
3. Take a cool bath.
4. Relax with a book, some music, or a movie on DVD player – tension tends to make hives worse.
When to call a doctor
Although generally undamaging, hives can accompany more serious, and sometimes fatal, conditions. Go to an emergency facility immediately:
1. If you have hives accompanied by dizziness, hoarseness, wheezing, cold sweats, nausea, or difficulty breathing after a insect bite, bee sting, eating, or taking a medication; you may be experiencing anaphylactic shock. If you have an emergency kit, have the adrenaline injection.
2. If burning sensations or itchy weals develop in your throat.
3. If you develop hives after taking medication; you may be experiencing an allergic reaction.
4. If you have recurring hives over a period of a month or more.
How to prevent it
1. Finding the cause of this disease is the most important thing you can do. If you are reacting to a food, you will feel the hives begin within two hours after you start eating.
2. To help identify the food, for a few days, eat foods that you think will not make you break out.
3. Gradually add other foods back into your diet, watching carefully for a reaction.
4. Keep a list of what you eat as well as your activities and the products that you use, to discuss with your doctor.