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Hives are raised, red, itchy patches of skin. They are also called wheals or welts. They usually have red borders and pale centres. Hives range in size from ½ centimetre to 7 centimetres or more across. They may seem to move from place to place on the skin. Several hives may form a large area of raised, red skin.
You can get hives after an infection caused by a virus or bacteria, after an insect sting, after taking medicine or eating certain foods, or because of stress. Other causes include plants, things you breathe in, makeup, heat, cold, sunlight, and latex.
You cannot spread hives to other people. Hives may last a few minutes or a few days, but a single spot may last less than 36 hours.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: February 26, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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