Urticaria: hives or hives

Urticaria is the medical name for hives or hives. It is a common skin reaction. About a quarter of the population will experience this at some point and it is often only a temporary skin condition. It occurs in both men and women.


  • What is urticaria?
  • Cause
  • The emergence
  • The treatment
  • Where can you find dermatologists?

What is urticaria?

Urticaria are red itchy spots on the skin. They develop very quickly on the skin, and go away after 12 – 24 hours. It often turns into a thick rash. The hives are caused by swellings in the dermis. It occurs on both the arms and legs and is sometimes accompanied by swelling of the eyelids, tongue or oral mucosa. Urticaria is not contagious. The urticaria is usually of short duration (acute urticaria), but if the complaints last more than 6 weeks, it is a case of chronic urticaria.


Urticaria is often caused by histamine. Histamine dilates the blood vessels, causing itching. People who have the chronic form of urticaria are required to take antihistamines to reduce it. In most cases, no cause can be found despite intensive investigation.

The emergence

In 75% of cases, a cause is never found. The other 25% can be classified into:

Medicines :

  • Antibiotics
  • Painkillers (aspirin)

Infections :

  • Bacteria
  • Yeasts (Candida)
  • Viruses (hepatitis B, mononucleosis)
  • Parasites

Physical stimuli :

  • Physical exercise
  • Pressure on the skin
  • Cold
  • Heat
  • Sunlight

Nutrition :

  • Especially products that are notorious as allergy triggers such as fish, shrimp, egg, etc.

Insect bites :

  • Fleas
  • Mosquitoes and other flies

Internal diseases :

  • Autoimmune diseases (lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Leukemia/Hodgkin’s disease
  • Contact allergy on the skin

The treatment

For children it can be given in the form of a drink, and for adults in the form of a capsule. It can also help to take a warm shower or bath if you experience a lot of pain. Wearing tight clothing can increase urticaria, so wear loose-fitting clothing. Research has shown that light therapy with UVB and PUVA can also be used to treat hives. They also need psychological support and reassurance.

Where can you find dermatologists?

Dermatologists are concerned with recognizing skin conditions and treating the skin. Find a dermatologist near you.