Hives and Angioedema
Hives and Angioedema Overview
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Hives is an allergic skin reaction that comes on suddenly. The hives themselves are slightly raised, smooth, flat-topped bumps called wheals and welts that are usually slightly more reddish in color than the surrounding skin and cause severe itching. Hives look somewhat like mosquito bites.
Angioedema is like hives, only the welts are larger and form at a deeper layer in the skin. Angioedema causes severe swelling, usually in the face, near the eyes and mouth. The swelling 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.
The medical term for hives is urticaria.
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.
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