A hive is a small to large, raised, itchy "wheal" of skin that lasts no longer than a day and usually clears up within a few hours. The hives may be small bumps or large, irregularly shaped areas.
Most people experience what is called acute urticaria where the hives are short lasting, of a known origin, and do not recur. However, a small percent of people have hives of unknown origin all the time and are diagnosed with chronic hives (urticaria). Urticaria is classified as chronic when it is recurrent for at least six weeks.
Evaluation and Treatment
At National Jewish Health, board-certified allergists see patients with chronic urticaria and provide a comprehensive evaluation, including a thorough history and physical examination.
Depending upon the findings of the initial evaluation, the following tests may be necessary: allergy skin testing, laboratory testing and blood work, and occasionally, a challenge to the suspected allergen is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. If indicated, challenges are coordinated with safety as the highest priority. National Jewish Health has a state-of-the-art challenge facility with extensive experience and an impeccable record in the performance of allergen challenges.
In most cases, non-sedating antihistamines are prescribed as a first line of treatment and can greatly reduce the hives. In severe cases, other stronger medications may be prescribed and the patient is followed closely to ensure no troublesome side effects occur.
Typical Hives Patients
Although anyone can get hives, it is slightly more common in middle-age women.
Reasons to Choose National Jewish Health
- The leading respiratory hospital in the nation and the only one devoted fully to the treatment of respiratory and related illnesses
- Ranked #1 or #2 in Pulmonology by U.S. News & World Report for 26 consecutive years
- Ranked in the top 5% of hospitals in the nation by HCAHPS
- Physicians consistently recognized among the best in the nation by multiple services, including Best Doctors in America and Castle Connolly
- Among the top 6% of organizations funded for research by the NIH, providing patients access to hundreds of active clinical trials
- 124-year history of focus on care, research and education serving patients from around the world with lung, heart, immune and related disorders