Hives: Symptoms & Treatment

“Hives – itchy red welts that seem to come out of nowhere – affect 20% of people at some time in their lives,” reports Dr. Kellie Reed, a board-certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology. Why do hives appear and what can you do about them? Dr. Reed explains more below.


Hives (also called urticaria) are raised pink or red swellings on the skin that usually itch and sometimes sting or hurt. They appear on any part of the body and vary in size from as small as a pinhead to as large as a plate. Dr. Reed describes, “Hives can occur alone or as patches, they may change shape, move around, or disappear and reappear elsewhere. Individual hives may even connect to form bigger welts.” One distinctive characteristic of hives is their “blanching” – pressing the center of a hive makes it turn white. Hives may be acute, appearing and disappearing again within a few days; or they may be chronic, with welts that come and go for months. Hives do not bruise or leave scars, and individual welts last less than 24 hours.


Hives are caused by many factors. “Some foods, especially peanuts and shellfish, certain medications, insect bites, physical contact with latex or chemicals, pet dander, pollen, bacterial infections like strep throat and plants such as poison ivy are common causes,” Dr. Reed explains. Sometimes the trigger is obvious – you pet a cat and break out in hives within minutes. However, often the cause, especially for chronic hives, is more difficult to pinpoint.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To discover the cause of hives, your dermatologist reviews your health history, does a physical exam and may also request blood work and allergy testing. Dr. Reed states, “By exploring with you when the hives appeared in relation to your activities, your dermatologist works like a detective to determine the most likely trigger.” Focused allergy testing or a course of trigger elimination may also help clarify the specific cause.

Your dermatologist may prescribe a non-drowsy antihistamine to treat your hives. This medication blocks the effects of histamine, a chemical in the skin that causes allergy symptoms. If the trigger is obvious, your dermatologist will suggest ways to avoid or eliminate the cause – by avoiding certain foods, changing medications, staying away from pets, plants and pollen, or treating infections.

Hives are usually not life-threatening, but if your reaction includes swelling of your tongue or lips, or if you have trouble breathing, seek medical care immediately.

Contact Us

If you’re suffering from hives or if you have any concerns about skin care, the medical experts at Sanova Dermatology can help. Contact us today.

We Are Proud Members Of:
Book Online

Latest Specials & Promotions

View All

Book appointment by

Choose your area

  • Baton Rouge

    6411 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808 - (225) 303-9500
  • Lafayette

    1245 Camellia Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70508 - (337) 839-2773
  • Bee Cave & Lakeway

    3944 RR 620 S. Bldg. 6, Bee Cave, TX 78738 - (512) 366-8568
  • Old Metairie

    701 Metairie Road, Metairie, LA 70005 - (504) 836-2050
  • Uptown

    3434 Prytania St., New Orleans, Louisiana 70115 - (504) 897-5899
  • Metairie

    111 Veterans Boulevard, Metairie, LA 70005 - (504) 838-8225
  • SBA Dermatology

    1900 Saint James Place, Houston, TX 77056 - (713) 850-0240
  • North Austin

    12319 North Mopac Expressway, Austin, Texas 78758 - (512) 837-3376
  • Central Austin

    3705 Medical Parkway, Austin, Texas 78705 - (512) 454-3781
  • Dripping Springs

    13830 Sawyer Ranch Road, Dripping Springs, TX 78620 - (512) 829-0009
  • Pflugerville

    1601 E. Pflugerville Parkway, Pflugerville, Texas 78660 - (512) 252-3700
  • Steiner Ranch

    5145 North FM 620 Rd, Austin, Texas 78732 - (512) 266-0007
  • Helyn Alvarez, MD

  • Daniel Barron, PA-C

  • Suzanne Bruce, MD

  • Daniel A. Carrasco, MD

  • Kristy Charles, MD

  • Ryan Couvillion, MD

  • Megan Couvillion, MD

  • Gretchen Donnes, PA-C

  • Leigh Ellen Eubanks, MD

  • Elizabeth Foley, DO

  • Natalie Gibson, PA-C

  • Miriam L. Hanson, MD

  • Alicia Haslauer, PA-C

  • Agezi Igboko, FNP-C

  • Haneen Issa, PA-C

  • Jennifer Jordan, PA-C

  • Ted Lain, MD, MBA

  • Adam J. Mamelak, MD

  • Sharon Meyer, MD

  • Lesley Ott, FNP-C

  • Melanie Pickett, MD

  • Jeffrey C. Poole, MD

  • Chad Prather, MD

  • Maria “Gabi” Prudhomme, FNP-C

  • Marcela Ramirez, FNP-C

  • Diana Reyes, PA-C

  • Israel Rodriguez, PA-C

  • Katharine Saussy, MD

  • Megan Shelton, MD

  • Candace Thrash, MD

  • Mamina Turegano, MD

  • Jennifer Vickers, MD

  • Micah Williams, PA-C

  • Laura Williams, MD