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Treatment for Hives

We treat patients with hives, both sudden and longstanding, and can ease the annoyance of daily itching and unsightly rashes. Although identifying a specific cause for longstanding urticaria is very difficult, our providers keep current with national recommendations and testing will be performed in most cases to help identify a cause. 

What are Hives

Hives — also known as urticaria — are raised, red, itchy welts (wheals) of various sizes that appear and disappear on your skin. Angioedema, a similar swelling, causes large welts deeper in your skin, especially near your eyes and lips. A more serious condition — hereditary angioedema (HAE) — is an uncommon, inherited disorder, which can cause sudden, severe and rapid swelling of your face, arms, legs, hands, feet, genitalia, digestive tract and airway.

As many as one in five people experiences acute hives or angioedema at one time or another. HAE, on the other hand is rare.

In most cases, hives and angioedema are harmless and don’t leave any lasting marks, even without treatment. The most common treatment for hives and angioedema is antihistamine medications. Serious angioedema can be life-threatening if swelling causes your throat or tongue to block your airway and leads to loss of consciousness.

Signs and Symptoms of Hives

Hives can be either acute or chronic. By definition, acute hives can last from less than a day to up to six weeks, whereas chronic hives last more than six weeks — sometimes occurring for months to years at a time. Angioedema and hives can occur at the same time.

Hives are raised, red bumps of various sizes that appear and disappear on your skin. They’re often itchy and may look similar to mosquito bites. Hives tend to occur in batches.

Angioedema is similar to hives but occurs deeper in the skin. Signs and symptoms of angioedema include large welts or swelling of the skin that may occur in the following locations:

  • Especially near your eyes and lips
  • On your hands
  • On your feet
  • On your genitalia
  • Inside your throat

Signs and symptoms of hereditary angioedema include:

  • Sudden and severe swelling of your face, arms, legs, hands, feet, genitalia, digestive tract and airway
  • Abdominal cramping as a result of digestive tract swelling
  • Difficulty or obstructed breathing due to swelling of your airway

What Causes Hives?

The lesions are caused by inflammation in the skin. In some cases, they are triggered when certain cells (mast cells) release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream and skin.

Allergic reactions to medications or foods can cause acute hives or angioedema. Many allergens have been identified. Examples include:

  • Foods. Many foods can cause problems in sensitive people, including shellfish, fish, nuts, eggs and milk
  • Medications. Almost any medication may cause hives or angioedema; common culprits include antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and some blood pressure medications.
  • Other allergens. Other substances that can cause hives and angioedema include direct contact with pollen, animal dander, latex and insect stings.

Additional triggers that may produce hives or angioedema include:

  • Physical factors. Environmental factors also can result in the release of histamine with subsequent hives or angioedema in some people. Examples of these factors include heat, cold, sunlight, water, pressure on the skin, emotional stress and exercise.
  • Dermatographism. The name of this condition literally means “write on the skin.” When pressure is applied to the skin or the skin is scratched, raised lines appear on those areas due to histamine-based angioedema that leads to swelling beneath the skin.

In addition to these triggers, hives and angioedema sometimes may occur in response to your body’s production of antibodies. Some examples of situations in which this might occur include blood transfusions; immune system disorders, such as lupus or cancer; certain thyroid disorders; and infections, such as hepatitis, or even a cold.

Hereditary angioedema is an inherited form of angioedema and is related to low levels or abnormal functioning of certain blood proteins (C1 inhibitors). These inhibitors play a role in regulating how your immune system functions.

Risk Factors of Hives

You may be at greater risk of hives and angioedema if you:

  • Have had hives or angioedema before
  • Have had other allergic reactions
  • Have a disorder associated with hives and angioedema, such as lupus, lymphoma or thyroid disease
  • Have a family history of hives, angioedema or hereditary angioedema

When to seek medical advice

Mild hives and angioedema usually aren’t life-threatening, and often you can treat hives and angioedema at home. However, seek emergency care if you feel lightheaded, have difficulty breathing, or if you feel your throat is swelling. See your doctor if your hives don’t respond to treatment or if they continue to appear for more than a couple of days.

New Treatment Medication!!!

In March of 2014, Xolair (Omalizumab) got FDA approval for the treatment of Chronic Urticaria. Since then, the physicians at Colorado Springs Allergy and Asthma Clinic have started many patients on this new treatment who have failed on typical therapy like antihistamines or oral steroids like prednisone. This has been a life-changing medication for many of our patients, some of whom have had hives for over 25 years. Maybe you can finally be hive free too!

Emergency Situations

For a severe attack of hives or angioedema, you may need an emergency injection of adrenaline (epinephrine) and a trip to the emergency room. If you have repeated attacks, despite treatment, your doctor may prescribe — and instruct you how to use — adrenaline to carry with you for use in emergency situations.


To lower your likelihood of experiencing hives or angioedema, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid known triggers. These may include certain foods or medications, or situations, such as temperature extremes, that have triggered past allergic attacks.
  • Keep a diary. If you suspect foods of causing the problem, keep a food diary. Be aware that some foods may contain ingredients that are listed by less common names on the label.


If you’re experiencing mild hives or angioedema, these tips may help relieve your symptoms:

  • Avoid irritating affected areas.
  • Take cool showers.
  • Apply cool compresses.
  • Wear loose, light clothing.
  • Minimize vigorous activity, which can release more irritants into your skin.
  • Use over-the-counter antihistamines to help relieve the itching.

Main Office

CS Allergy

3425 Austin Bluffs Pkwy Suite #205
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80918

Phone: (719) 592-1365

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South Office

CS Allergy

1235 Lake Plaza Drive Suite #218
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906

Phone: (719) 592-1365

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Monument Office

CS Allergy

550 Highway 105
Monument, Colorado 80132

Phone: (719) 592-1365

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