Chronic hives (urticaria) are often misunderstood by patients and even medical providers. Unlike acute hives, which typically go away within hours to days, chronic hives last more than six weeks. Chronic hives are rarely caused by an “allergic reaction,” and patients are therefore frequently frustrated by the lack of identifiable cause for their hives. Nevertheless, there are safe and effective treatments for chronic hives. This short quiz provides patients with basic information on chronic hives, which will hopefully improve patient understanding and satisfaction with the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.
B. No identifiable trigger – Although this can be frustrating for patients, chronic hives rarely have an identifiable external cause and are almost never caused by an allergy.
C. Antihistamines – Antihistamines decrease the itching, frequency and severity of hives. Antihistamines are usually well tolerated, with drowsiness being the most common side effect.
D. No testing is usually necessary – Since hives are not caused by an allergy and do not suggest the presence of underlying health concerns, testing is rarely needed. Most cases can be confirmed by the appearance and characteristics of the hives. Blood work or a skin biopsy may be helpful in a few cases.
E. All of the above – Hives are bothersome and frustrating for patients, which is why correct diagnosis and treatment is important.
A. Roughly 50% of cases of hives will resolve within a year, and more than 80% will resolve by five years. Appropriate treatment typically controls symptoms and improves quality of life.
Learn more about skin allergy symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and management.