Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Hives is a rash of smooth, raised, pink or reddish bumps of different sizes, called wheals. Hives appear suddenly. The wheals look somewhat like mosquito bites. They may cover all or part of the body and are usually very itchy.
Hives usually appear first on the covered areas of the skin such as the trunk and upper parts of the arms and legs.
Wheals appear in batches. Each wheal may last from a few minutes to
six hours. As wheals disappear, new ones form. A case of hives usually lasts at most a few days.
Hives are usually patchy at first, but the patches may run together until the hives cover most of the body.
The patches can be small or large. They are usually irregular in shape. Often, the patches have clearing of the redness in the center with a red halo or flare at the edges.
The itching is often very intense.
Hives are characterized by blanching, which means that the redness goes away and the area turns pale when pressure is applied.
Dermographism may be present. Dermographism refers to the appearance of reddened areas like hives that appear after light scratching of the skin.
Angioedema is related to hives but has a different appearance. Angioedema describes marked swelling, usually around the eyes and mouth. It may also involve the throat, tongue, hands, feet, and/or genitals.
The skin may appear normal, without hives or other rash.
The eyes may appear swollen shut.
The swellings usually do not itch but may be painful or burning.
The swellings may not be symmetrical (the same on both sides of the body).
Like hives, the swelling of angioedema can go away on its own.
Other, more severe allergic reactions may occur with hives or angioedema. A reaction may start with hives or angioedema and then progress rapidly to more serious symptoms. The most serious reactions, which can be life-threatening emergencies, are called anaphylactic reactions. The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include the following:
Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat
Wheezing, a raspy sound when you breathe
Tightness in the throat or chest
Rapid or irregular heart beat
Dizziness or faintness
Loss of consciousness
Respiratory stridor, to and fro breathing that is strained in the throat
The dizziness, faintness, and loss of consciousness are caused by dangerously low blood pressure, also called shock.