Hives (urticaria) are itchy red bumps that develop on the skin. They can be small (like the tip of your pinky) or very large. (Large hives are usually a grouping of smaller hives that have run together to form a large red welt called a “plaque.”)
Hives often form near the face and throat, but they can develop anywhere on the body. Hives are characterized according to their longevity as either acute or chronic. Acute hives go away in less than six weeks. Chronic hives last beyond that, either without interruptions or in recurring break-outs.
Angioedema is like hives but occurs beneath the surface of the skin and manifests through swelling instead of the hives-like rash. Angioedema can cause deep swelling around the eyes and mouth (including the tongue and throat). The swelling from angioedema generally subsides within 24 hours.
Hives and angioedema may occur together and are often allergy-related. There are several options for managing the symptoms of hives and angioedema. Prescription creams and medications such as antihistamines and steroids therapy can help with the symptoms. The drawback to medications is that they do not get to the heart of the problem.
If your hives or angioedema are long-lasting or keep returning, a more permanent solution may be recommended such as allergy immunotherapy. Immunotherapy can be offered through shots or, more conveniently and safely, through sublingual (under-the-tongue) immunotherapy that can be taken at home.