Hives or urticaria are itchy, raised welts that are found on the skin. They're frequently caused by an allergic reaction to medication or food. It can sting as well as be painful. Burning, itching or stinging welts can occur anywhere on the body, ranging in size from very small, to quite large and even extensive when they may be referred to as giant urticaria. Acute urticaria lasting less than six weeks is most commonly caused by foods, medications, or infections. These all cause histamine release, which is responsible for symptoms ranging from mild itch, severe itch, burning, stinging to the extent of being painful. An insect bite parallels exactly the spectrum of histamine release. There are some notable triggering agents. Foods, the most common foods that can cause hives are nuts, fish, eggs, fresh berries, milk, certain food additives. Although one can be sensitive to anything. Medications are also implicated, notably antibiotics, aspirin, high blood pressure medications, painkillers, and cancer drugs. Hives can also be caused by infections such as strep throat, mononucleosis, hepatitis, or even a single upper respiratory tract infection like the common cold. There are physical urticarias such as temperature, both cold, induced by cold weather, or even heat, body heat from exercise induced hives can also occur. Vibration has also been implicated. Sun exposure has also been involved.
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