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Urticaria, also called hives, are red, itchy, swollen areas of the skin that can range in size and appear anywhere on the body. The blotches can migrate on body, appearing in different areas throughout the course of the reaction.
Usually, the cause of urticaria is readily identifiable—often a viral infection, or allergic reaction to drugs, food or latex. These hives usually go away spontaneously or by avoiding the allergic trigger. However, in some cases, medical intervention is needed to increase comfort or prevent recurrence. Treatment with oral antihistamines is frequently successful, but in severe cases, steroids may be needed.
Some people have chronic urticaria that occurs almost daily for months or, in some cases, years. For these individuals, scratching, pressure or stress may aggravate hives. An allergist/immunologist can diagnosis the problem and prescribe treatments for this bothersome condition.