A dermatologist can usually diagnose hives by looking at the patient’s skin. Detecting the cause of hives, however, can be difficult.
This is particularly true for hives that have been around for over six weeks. A dermatologist will assess the patient’s medical history, ask questions, and perform a physical examination to determine the cause of the hives.
How do dermatologists treat hives?
The most common treatment for a mild to moderate case of hives is a non-sedating (non-drowsiness causing) antihistamine. Antihistamines offer relief from symptoms such as itching.
Additionally, antihistamines are also prescribed for chronic hives. Taking this medication daily can prevent hives from developing. Many antihistamines are available on the market. While some can make a patient drowsy, others do not.
Drugs that dermatologists prescribe for the treatment of hives include the following:
- Corticosteroids such as prednisone: These drugs are prescribed for short-term use because of the side effects associated with long-term use.
- Dapsone: This antibiotic can relieve inflammation and redness.
- Omalizumab: This injectable drug can be helpful for patients suffering from chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU), which is a form of hives that can last for months, or even years.
- Other drugs to combat swelling and redness.
The patient should ask their dermatologist about the potential side effects of these medications.
In some cases of hives or angioedema (a condition that is similar to hives, but the inflammation occurs deeper in the skin), the patient may require an injection of epinephrine (shot of adrenaline).
All drugs have potential side effects, and the patient should ask their dermatologist about the possible side effects.
Treatment for Chronic Hives
Chronic hives known as CIU can last for six weeks or longer and sometimes persist for years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two drugs for the treatment of this condition — antihistamines and omalizumab.
According to research, half of the people with CIU continue to experience hives after treatment with antihistamines. Omalizumab is injected under the skin, and it has been proven to relieve the itch and clear hives in some individuals with CIU.
A research study found that 36 percent of patients who received treatment with omalizumab reported no hives and no itch following the treatment.
Hives are not a serious condition for most people. In the case of children, they may outgrow the allergies that cause their hives.
At times, people with chronic hives, or those that last for over six weeks, see the hives resolve on their own, usually within one year. People with a chronic case of hives may experience that they come and go for months or years.
In case the hives are chronic or become severe, it is vital to receive medical help. Hives can indicate an internal disease, and some people experience severe inflammation. Patients with hives and problems in breathing or swallowing should get immediate emergency care.
Tips for the Management of Hives
The patient may not require treatment when the hives are mild. They can often find relief from the itching by applying cool cloths to the hives, or by taking cool showers.
In case the patient has a bad allergic response, such as shortness of breath, they should consult their doctor about a prescription drug known as an “auto-injector.” This drug stops the allergic response upon being injected into the thigh. The patient should follow the doctor’s advice on how to use this drug.
If you would like to learn more about procedures and treatments at Metro East Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center by Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Jamie L. McGinness please contact us here or call (618) 622-SKIN (7546)
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