Urticaria (Hives)

Urticaria, also called hives or angioedema, affects up to 25 percent of people at some point in their lives.

Overview and Symptoms

Overview and Symptoms

Up to three percent of people have chronic idiopathic urticaria (chronic hives), which means that hives have been occurring for more than six weeks and have no identifiable cause.

Hives may be triggered by:

  • Foods
  • Medications
  • Infections (viral and possibly bacterial or fungal)
  • Other chronic medical illnesses (such as lupus, thyroid disease, and even cancer)
  • Heat
  • Cold
  • Pressure to the skin
  • Trauma to the skin
  • Sun exposure
  • Water
  • Exercise


There is currently no known way to permanently cure chronic hives, but we do know that most cases are characterized by periodic flare-ups with symptom-free intervals between. Most of the time, hives will eventually “burn out” and never come back, although this may not happen until many months or even years have gone by.

In cases of chronic hives where a trigger can be identified, the best way to treat hives is by avoiding the trigger. In cases where no trigger can be identified (80 to 90 percent of chronic hives), there are some medications which can help relieve and even prevent symptoms.

  • Antihistamines
  • Steroid Medications
  • Disease-modifying drugs

In addition, a monthly monoclonal antibody injection can now used for the treatment of severe chronic urticaria that is not responsive to other treatments. You must come to the allergy clinic for this treatment.