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Hives, called urticarial by the medical community, are common, uncomfortable, and unsightly. Hives affect about 20% of the population in this country at some point in their lives.

These red, bumpy, or slightly raised welts can occur anywhere on your body including your face, torso, back, arms, and legs. Hives can be small or large. They can be isolated or connect to each other and cover an entire portion of your body. They are usually itchy. Sometimes they’re painful or sting.

They often disappear within a day only to return, lasting for a few days or a few weeks. If they last longer than six weeks, they’re considered chronic hives, rather than sudden-onset hives.

What causes hives?

An allergic reaction usually triggers hives, but they can also be caused by other situations such as stress, anxiety, or exercise. Hives are a reaction to the release of mast cells into the bloodstream, which unleashes the chemical histamine. The release of histamine causes tiny pools of fluid to collect under the skin, forming spots and welts of varying sizes.

Sometimes the cause for a hive outbreak is easy to figure out. Sometimes you and your allergist need to do some detective work. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause of hives is never determined.

Common triggers of sudden-onset hives

Fortunately, there are several common triggers of hives that can help you pinpoint whatever is triggering your itchy, blotchy hive outbreak. The most common triggers include:

Certain foods

Common foods that lead to an allergic reaction of hives include citrus fruits, milk, eggs, peanuts, and shellfish

Insect bites and stings

Most insect stings and bites come from wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and honeybees. An allergic reaction to an insect bite means that you experience swelling and welts that extend outside the area of the bite itself.


An allergy to animals is not to the animal itself, or even the animal’s fur, as many people think. The allergy stems from pet dander, which is tiny flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, and birds.


If you’re one of the many people who suffer from seasonal allergies, then, unfortunately, exposure to pollen can not only bring on red, watery eyes and a stuffy nose; for some, it can also bring on an outbreak of hives.

Heat or cold temperature exposure

Direct sunlight or cold temperatures can bring on an outbreak of hives, especially for people with sensitive skin.

Treatment for hives

The first step to minimize hives is to steer clear of your triggers. Since that’s not always easy to do, especially if you like to spend time outside, then antihistamines can help provide relief from the itching and discomfort associated with hives.

Whatever your symptoms or triggers are, Dr. Richard Herrscher can help you develop a personalized treatment plan to combat hives and symptoms of hives.

For more information on triggers and treatments for sudden onset hives, call Dr. Herrscher at AIR Care with offices in Dallas and Plano, Texas. You can also make an appointment online through this website.