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This information was reviewed and approved by Christine B. Cho, MD (3/31/2019).

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I have hives. Since the allergy season this year is so bad, should I expect my condition to worsen as well?

Answer: The cause of hives is usually unknown and only rarely related to pollen allergies.


Question: Are hives contagious?

Answer: Many of the causes of hives are not contagious, but the cause of the hives must be evaluated, since there are viruses, bacteria and parasites that can cause hives.


Question: How can you cure hives fast?

Answer: It is important to identify the cause, avoid the cause if possible and treat the hives.


Question: What does a hive look like?

Answer: A hive is a raised, extremely itchy "wheal" or bump on the skin with surrounding skin redness. It can occur on any part of the body. If hives occur in some areas, such as the eyelid or ear, they can appear to be very swollen.


Question: I broke out in hives around my knees within 24 hours after doing strenuous exercise on a stair stepper. I thought this was bizarre but read that people sometimes have allergic reactions to stress on joints. Do you think this was the case?

Answer: I am not sure that the location of the hives tells us much about the origin of the problem. However, exercise-induced urticaria (hives following exercise) is a well-known condition. In some people, they are associated with eating specific foods. Celery, shrimp, wheat and dairy products have all been implicated, but there may be others. If this happens more than once, it is best to have this evaluated further by an allergist, as this can be associated with anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction.


Question: I am diagnosed with angioedema and have recently had a new outbreak. My allergist is doing an old treatment of Doxepin. This has helped some, but not completely. I've been steroid-free for five years, and I have no desire to go back on them. A recent biopsy of one of the lesions indicated angioedema with a possible allergic component. What is the newest hive treatment?

Answer: See the section on Hives treatment.

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