WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Urticaria is also called hives. Hives can change size and shape, and appear anywhere on your skin. They can be mild or severe and last from a few minutes to a few days. Urticaria that lasts longer than 6 weeks may be a chronic condition that needs long-term treatment. Hives may be a sign of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an emergency. Seek care immediately if you feel dizzy, your mouth tingles, or you have trouble swallowing or breathing.
Call 911 for any of the following signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis:
- You have trouble swallowing or breathing because your lips, tongue, or throat are swollen.
- You have swelling in your face or hands or tingling in your mouth or throat.
- You have chest tightness or are dizzy.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your heart is beating faster than it normally does.
- You feel like you are going to faint.
- You have cramping or severe pain in your abdomen.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- Your skin still itches 24 hours after you take your medicine.
- You still have hives after 7 days.
- Your joints are painful and swollen.
- You used your emergency kit.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Carry an emergency kit:
Ask your healthcare provider if you need to carry an emergency kit in case you have a severe allergic reaction. The kit contains a medicine called epinephrine. You can give it to yourself as a shot if you have a severe allergic reaction. Your healthcare provider will teach you and your family when and how to give epinephrine shots. Always carry your anaphylaxis kit with you. Check the expiration date on the kit every month and replace it before it expires.
You may need any of the following to treat mild urticaria. Chronic urticaria may need to be treated with other medicines if the medicines used for mild symptoms do not work:
- Antihistamines help decrease itching. This medicine is available without a doctor's order.
- Steroids may decrease redness, pain, and swelling.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Manage your symptoms:
- Carry an emergency kit as directed. The kit has a medicine called epinephrine. You can give it to yourself as a shot if you have a severe allergic reaction. Your healthcare provider will teach you and your family when and how to give epinephrine shots. Always carry your anaphylaxis kit with you. Check the expiration date on the kit every month and replace it before it expires.
- Cool your skin. This may help decrease your itching. Apply a cool pack to your hives. Dip a hand towel in cool water, wring it out, and place it on your hives. You may also soak your skin in a cool oatmeal bath.
- Do not rub your hives. This can irritate your skin and cause more hives.
- Wear loose clothing. Tight clothes may irritate your skin and cause more hives.
- Keep a record of triggers and symptoms. Record everything you eat, drink, or apply to your skin for 3 weeks. Include stressful events and what you were doing right before your hives started. Bring the record with you to follow-up visits with your healthcare provider.
- Manage stress. Stress may trigger hives, or make them worse. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.