You know how it is:
Having itchy skin hives all over your body for days is a horrible nightmare to deal with.
The red spotted rashes were not only unsightly, but they can also cause unbearable itchiness and pain that you are desperate for solution.
So what are the causes of these body hives, and the treatment options to get back your quality of life?
Symptoms of Hives on Skin and Body
Hives, also known as Urticaria in the medical fields are characteristically reddish bumps or welts that appear on the skin. These swollen bumps form like patches on the skin. They might appear on just one part of your body or in more severe cases, cover your entire body.
Experiencing an outbreak of hives can be a very discomforting event. The affected parts of your skin will itch and the bumps don’t look good at all. Hives are most commonly noticed on the arms and limbs before spreading to other parts of the body.
According to American Academy of Family Physicians, hives appear as patches on the skin comprising of small reddish bumps measuring about 1-2 cm. They are usually about the size of regular rash or slightly bigger like pimples or blackheads. Hives have been known to appear irregularly on various parts of the body.
The duration of a breakout depends on the case. It might last for a few hours, 24 hours, weeks or months. Many patients experience a breakout of itchy hives all over body for days, with the rash gradually spreads out to cover more areas in a quite alarming way.
This video shows a case of body hives rash breakout on skin that gave burning sensation.
Causes of Skin Hives Appearing All Over The Body
Hives are mostly triggered by allergic reactions caused by the release of a compound called Histamine into your bloodstream. High levels of histamine can cause an irritation which manifests as the red welts we call hives.
Histamine is released by the body when a potential infection is detected. It is the body’s defence mechanism to existing infections. It is unfortunate that the body might release higher amounts of this compound than necessary which will lead to the irritation of blood vessels that cause a hives rash breakout on skin.
As revealed by the American Academy of Dermatology, hives can either appear locally on just a part of the body or it can spread across all over the body.
The spread of hives is not as a result of transmitting it by touching or scratching. However, it is best not to scratch hives to prevent further damage to the affected parts of the skin.
Triggers / Causes of Widespread Hives that Cover Entire Body
- Viral Infection – Viral infections have been identified as one of the common causes of hives from various reputable research studies and reports. These cases are usually characterised by digestive issues, coughing or slight fever. These cases are not classified as allergic reactions and the hives usually fade away in 3 days.
- Bacterial Infection. Hives can also result due to bacterial infections like Strep, Urinary tract infections or UTIs.
- Drug Reaction: Some patients have experienced a breakout of hives due to reaction to drugs like penicillin or certain antibiotics. Reactions to antibiotics that lead to hives are usually characterised by viral rashes on the affected parts of the skin.
- Reaction to certain foods: Foods like peanuts have been known to trigger hives outbreak in some cases. These cases usually last for a short period, not more than six hours.
- Intense physical activities: Engaging in intense physical activities have been known to trigger cholinergic urticaria (hives). The increase in internal heat can stimulate the blood vessels resulting in hives. In some cases, hot baths have also irritated the blood vessels enough to cause hives.
- Patients prone to emotional stress are also susceptible to hives.
- Insect sting insects like bees and wasps are also known to cause allergic reactions when the individual is stung by them. This can lead to a breakout of hives all over the body. It is advised that everyone should identify their common allergic triggers to stay safe.
- Anaphylactic Reactions: these are more severe cases where the patient can suffer from breathing and ingesting problems accompanied with the hives breaking out all over their body. It is triggered by either allergic reaction to food or drugs. These reactions happen very quickly, usually few minutes after exposure to the allergic triggers.
Dr. Robert Overholt elaborates more on causes of skin hives in video below, including your role in identifying the cause that triggered your hives rash.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Itchy Hives on Body
Individuals that have spotted some symptoms that can be identified with hives should immediately visit a dermatologist for an assessment and a proper diagnosis. This will be done by observing the features of the symptoms and attempting to identify the cause.
Identifying the cause of hives might be quite difficult especially in cases where the patient didn’t visit a dermatologist as soon as they spotted the symptoms of hives.
Investigations to identify what caused a hives breakout will be conducted by the dermatologist. This will include an analysis of your previous health history and a physical examination of your body. The following tests might also be necessary:
- Carrying out allergy tests in the patients’ blood or the affected parts of the skin.
- Conducting a blood work to identify any potential underlying medical conditions.
- A skin biopsy.
In cases where the patient suffers from severe and discomforting symptoms like itching, Antihistamines could be prescribed to counter the influence of Histamines that have been released into the bloodstream, says the Patient UK.
Examples of antihistamines that could be purchased over the counter include Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Loratadine (Claritin), Ranitidine (Zantac) and Cetirizine (Zyrtec) etc, as below.
These drugs are available over the counter. However, it is best to seek professional medical attention if you suspect that the symptoms are not getting better. Severe cases usually require a doctor’s prescription of corticosteroid tablets like Prednisolone.
In the case your hives do not respond to antihistamines and steroids, or you prefer natural remedy for skin hives relief — one natural OTC option to help get rid of hives fast is homeopathic remedy as a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) for hives relief.
Homeopathy, a medical practice and alternative medicine based on the idea that the body has the ability to heal itself, was founded in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann in Germany and has been widely practiced nowadays after gaining popularity over the years.
A leading OTC homeopathic hives relief product is Oxyhives. It contains all-natural ingredients like Apis Mellifera (honey bee) and Arnica Montana flower that have been used for decades as natural medication to cure hives.
What makes Oxyhives stand out is its sublingual spray that once sprayed under the tongue, the natural ingredients quickly enters the bloodstream where they immediately begin acting on the body to provide instant relief on unbearable hives symptoms (eg. itching, swelling, burning) in a much faster way compared to oral pills and topical cream application.
Difference of Full Body Hives vs Localised Hives on Skin
Localised hives refer to hives that appear on only one part of the body. It is not widespread and usually disappears after some time.
Common Causes of Localised Hives on Skin
- Exposure to irritants: Hives can appear on a particular area of the skin that has been exposed to irritants.
- Contact with certain plants: There are some plants that have juices which can cause a hives breakout on the area of the skin that comes in contact with this plant’s fluids.
- Pollen grains: Patients, especially children, have experienced hives when they can in contact with pollen on that particular area of their skin.
- Saliva from pets: Some cases of hives have been reported to have happened as a result of exposure to saliva from pets which comes in contact with a part of the skin causing hives in just that area of the skin.
- Foods: Individuals to experience hives when certain foods come in contact with the skin.
- Bee / Insect Stings: Many people experienced hives on the parts of their skin where they were stung by insects, such as bee stings, that trigger the allergic reaction which developed into hives.
The key difference in localised hives that affect just certain parts of the skin and widespread hives that appear all over the body for days are that:
- Widespread hives all over the body are caused by infections or drugs that go into the bloodstream causing an agitation in the blood vessels all over the body. This leads to hives appearing all over the body.
- Localised hives happen when certain parts of the skin come in contact with the causative agents of hives.