In this guide, we will discuss what are hives, as well as the signs and symptoms of heat rash and how they affect the skin.
What are hives? How Do they affect your skin?
Hives are known as Urticaria. They might appear suddenly and disappear just as suddenly as well. Dermatologists blame allergens like certain food items, drugs, latex, insect bites, and reaction to stress or other emotional factors for the appearance of hives.
What causes hives?
The main reason why hives appear on the skin is due to secretion of a chemical in the body called histamine. Histamine is created in the blood when the body reacts to certain proteins, enzymes or other allergens. For example, some people are allergic to the protein in insect saliva. When they are bitten by the insect, their body tries to counter the allergens by producing histamine.
How do Hives look? How long do they last?
Hives are characterized by red raised, round shaped welts and itchy rashes on the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, but more so on the arms, legs and face. They might be present in clusters or even a single spot. Chronic hives rash cases can last for a few weeks, while others tend to disappear within an hour of occurrence depending on the severity of the condition and overall health of the individual. Antihistamines and corticosteroids can heal hives faster.
What are some of the common hives causing agents?
Majority of the hives cases are caused by fresh foods like fish, nuts, chocolate, tomatoes, lentils, wheat, soy, berries, eggs etc. Internal disease, insect bites and latex, cosmetics or drug sensitivity can also cause hives. Some people also tend to break out into hives due to direct exposure to heat, cold, sun, pressure, sweating etc.
In some cases, hives could be a sign of serious illness.
Heat rash and skin
Prickly heat or heat rash and skin infections related to it are more common during the summer months. Heat rash occurs mainly due to clogged sweat glands. The sweat collects and pools in these areas leading to ‘pins and needles’ like sensation.
Heat rashes are a common occurrence in babies and infants who are tightly wrapped or swaddled in blankets. Common areas where a heat rash might appear on the skin include the back, neck, the folds of the skin beneath the breasts, in the elbow creases, armpits etc. Heat rashes do not just affect human skin; they can even occur on pets and other mammals.
How do heat rashes affect the skin?
Heat rashes, like hives, also cause red, raised and inflamed bumps on the skin. They are characterized by swelling, puffiness and irritation. Scratching the heat rashes could lead to bacterial infections which may need antibiotics or steroidal treatment.
Heat rashes can be prevented by bathing the area in cool water and sprinkling anti-perspirant powder on it.
Steps to control hives, heat rash and skin rashes of different types
- Limit your contact with irritants
- Keep the skin clean
- Take the medication as prescribed by your doctor
- Keep a tube of an over-the-counter (1%) hydrocortisone cream handy as it is known to soothe many kinds of skin rashes.
- Avoid scratching the rash
- Avoid getting too hot as this can further irritate the hives and rashes
- Continue taking care of the skin even after it has healed.
As stated before, hives, heat rash and skin rashes which do not heal within a week’s time should not be ignored as they may be signs of a more serious underlying health condition.