Hives and Angioedema
What Are Hives and Angioedema?
- 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 come on suddenly due to an allergic reaction.
- One of every five people will have hives at some time in their lives.
- The medical term for hives is urticaria.
- Angioedema is an allergic reaction like hives, only the welts are larger and form in a deeper layer of the skin. 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 impair breathing by closing off the passage of air into the lungs.
- Hives and angioedema can occur together, but they usually do not.
- The most common rash for which people seek emergency medical care is hives.
- Hives and angioedema can happen at any age, in children or adults.
- Many different things can be triggers for hives and angioedema, including infections, stress, exercise, changes in the environment, and insect bites and stings. In up to half of cases, no specific trigger can be identified.
Last Reviewed 9/11/2017
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