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.

  • People with allergic asthma or who are allergic to food, medicine, insect stings or latex.


Related Programs




Clinical Trials

New Medication for Uncontrolled Eczema

Are you one of the many people with atopic dermatitis (eczema) who continues to have dry, itchy skin, and repeat infections that are not controlled by your medicine? Our researchers are seeking participants for a clinical trial that will test a medication called dupilumab that was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.

Learn More

Reasons to Visit 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 as one of the top two hospitals in pulmonology every year since U.S. News & World Report included this category in its annual “Best Hospitals” survey
  • Ranked in the top 1 percent of hospitals in the nation by HCAHPS
  • Physicians frequently recognized as among the best in the nation by multiple services, including Best Doctors in America and Castle Connolly
  • Among the top 8 percent of organizations funded for research by the NIH, providing patients access to the latest clinical trials
  • 120 -year history of focus on care, research and education serving thousands of patients with lung, heart, immune and related disorders