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Hives Treatment

Advanced Treatment for Hives (Urticaria) in the San Diego Area

Dr. Melanie Palm is a nationally recognized dermatologist and an expert in the treatment of hives affecting both adults and children. Dr. Palm is a noted leader in her field and offers many effective treatment options for hives, also known as urticaria. Her offices are located in Solana Beach, CA just north of San Diego.

What are Hives?

Urticaria, the medical term for hives, is characterized by an outbreak of swollen pink bumps or raised lesions on the skin called wheals. They tend to appear suddenly, often as a result of an allergic reaction though they can appear for other reasons as well.

The appearance of hives is usually accompanied by itching, though burning and stinging of the affected area is not uncommon. Hives can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat, ears, and areas of pressure such as the waistline of trousers.

A systemic reaction of hives is angioedema. Angioedema leads not only to swelling of the skin, but also of the mucous membranes (around eyes or mouth), gastrointestinal problems, and breathing difficulties. Severe cases of angioedema can be a symptom of anaphylaxis – a life-threatening allergic reaction associated with low blood pressure.

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What Causes Hives?

Approximately one-half of all cases of hives have no identifiable cause. Recognized causes of hives (urticaria) include medications, food allergies, recent viral illness, emotional stress, and even alcohol. Common medication causes of hives include antibiotics such as penicillin, aspirin, pain medications, and anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Other triggers include cold, heat, exercise, water, sun, and excessive vibration. Most hives are “acute,” meaning they resolve within six weeks of first outbreak. Cases lasting longer than six weeks are referred to as “chronic urticaria.” Long-standing hives with no identifiable cause is referred to as “chronic idiopathic urticaria.”

Treatment Options for Hives

Diagnosis is the first step in treating hives and this can be done by visual inspection of the affected area or, in some cases, by a skin biopsy. This is particularly helpful in cases when hives are associated with vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels). The mainstay of hives treatment is oral antihistamines such as fexofenadine (Allegra), cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and identifying (if possible) the underlying cause of hives.

Short bursts of oral steroids are used occasionally to bring severe cases of urticaria under control. Cases of long-standing hives (chronic idiopathic urticarial) that has not responded to traditional therapy may not be treated with a newer FDA-approved medication called Xolair ® (omalizumab). For systemic reactions including anaphylaxis, a metered dose of epinephrine may be necessary to carry with the affected person at all times.

If you are looking for a dermatologist to treat hives (urticaria) in the San Diego area, call Dr. Melanie Palm at 858.792.SKIN (7546) to schedule your appointment to discuss your treatment options.