Chronic Hives - Myths and Facts

Health Writer
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Chronic hives, also called chronic urticaria, causes an itchy, red rash on the skin. Many times, the cause of the disease is never known, resulting in much disinformation and a variety of myths surrounding the condition.

Myth: Chronic hives are an allergic reaction

Facts: Hives are a known reaction to allergens, for example, if you eat shellfish and then break out with hives. But chronic hives are different. They appear without any evidence of an allergy. Despite this, many people and even doctors suggest avoiding high-allergen foods, such as peanuts.

Facts: Between 30 and 50 percent of chronic hives are caused by an autoimmune reaction, which means your body’s immune system activates to fight an infection that isn’t there. Many people with chronic urticaria never find an answer as to why the hives appear.

Myth: There isn’t any treatment for chronic hives.

Facts: There isn’t a cure for chronic urticaria, however, there are treatments, such as taking non-drowsy antihistamines each day, that can help relieve the itching and reduce the number of flares. Treatments are aimed at controlling symptoms.

Facts: The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology points to several medications that might help, such as cyclosporin, dapsone and colchicine. However, not everyone will see results and these drugs can have undesirable side effects.

Myth: Chronic urticaria doesn’t affect quality of life.

Facts: When you live with chronic hives, you live with uncertainty. You don’t know when or how severe your next flare will be. Some people avoid social gatherings because they fear breaking out in hives.

Facts: If your chronic hives are caused by an autoimmune reaction, there is a good chance you battle fatigue on a regular basis. Some days you might feel too tired to even get out of bed.