Are hives an allergic reaction?

hivesNot always!

HIVES: Hives have been referred to as welts, nettle rash, and by physicians, urticaria. They are raised areas of your skin that are warm, very itchy and red. They can suddenly appear anywhere on the body and last a few hours or as long as 48 hours.

Hives can be caused by allergic or non-allergic mechanisms. In a majority of chronic cases, the exact cause remains unknown. A common cause of hives is dermatographism. It is caused by stroking of the skin or rubbing as occurs with scratching or tight-fitting garments.

Often hives are caused by an adverse reaction to some food or durg. Foods likely to cause hives include nuts, tomatoes, shellfish, and berries. Drugs often responsible for producing hives are penicillin, sulfa, anticonvulsants, phenobarbital and aspirin.

But other times…

Exercise is another common cause of hives in which there is no allergic substance involved. Those individuals affected can also develop respiratory obstruction and/or lose consciousness. Such a severe reaction is called exercise-induced anaphylaxis. It has been recently appreciated that the combination of exercise and consumption of a food can together cause hives or anaphylaxis whereas individually exercise or the food is harmless.