Chronic Hives: Care Instructions
Chronic hives are long-lasting raised, red, and itchy patches of skin. Hives usually have red borders and pale centres. They range in size from ½ centimetre to 8 centimetres (¼ inch to 3 inches) or more across. They may seem to move from place to place on the skin. Several hives may join to form a large area of raised, red skin.
When hives and swelling last more than 6 weeks even with treatment, they are called chronic.
Hives may occur with swelling under the skin. But you may have swelling without hives. Swelling may hurt a bit, but it does not usually itch like hives.
You cannot spread hives to other people.
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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Avoid whatever you think may have caused your hives, such as a certain food or medicine. But you may not know the cause.
- Put a cool, wet towel on the area to relieve itching.
- Your doctor may suggest a non-drowsy antihistamine, such as loratadine (Claritin), to help control the hives. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine to carry with you in case you have a severe reaction. Learn how to give yourself the shot, and keep it with you at all times. Make sure it has not expired.
- If your doctor prescribes another medicine, take it exactly as directed.
When should you call for help?
Give an epinephrine shot if:
- You think you are having a severe allergic reaction.
After giving an epinephrine shot call 911, even if you feel better.
Call 911 if:
- You have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
- Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your body.
- Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
- Trouble breathing.
- Passing out (losing consciousness). Or you may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
- You have been given an epinephrine shot, even if you feel better.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
- You do not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Current as of: April 20, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine