Hives and Angioedema
Hives and Angioedema Overview
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Hives are an allergic skin reaction that comes on suddenly. Hives are slightly raised, smooth, flat-topped bumps that are usually slightly more reddish in color than the surrounding skin and cause severe itching. Hives look somewhat like mosquito bites. Hives bumps are also referred to as wheals and welts. The medical term for hives is urticaria.
Angioedema is like hives, only the welts are larger and form at a deeper layer in the skin. Angioedema is also usually considered an allergic reaction. Angioedema causes severe swelling, usually in the face, near the eyes and mouth. The swelling of angioedema can also occur in the inside of the throat, which is a dangerous situation because it can close off the passage of air into the lungs.
Hives and angioedema can occur together, but they usually do not. Hives is the most common rash for which people seek emergency medical care. One of every five people will have hives at some time in their lives. Angioedema is less common. Hives and angioedema can happen at any age, in children or adults.
This article does not refer to an uncommon and more serious condition, hereditary angioedema. Hereditary angioedema involves swelling over the entire body, including some internal organs.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/22/2015
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