My son has been out of school for several days with the most shocking case of hives (also known as urticaria) I've seen on him yet. He only gets them occasionally -- maybe twice a year. But this week, the only places he doesn't have them is inside his mouth. He is literally covered in them.
Even the soles of his feet, his palms and the back of his ears are covered in large red welts that are painful and unbearable itchy. He has scratched them in his sleep causing bleeding, which we warn against in order to avoid infection. But when you are madly scratching in your sleep, it's not something you can stop.
I took him to the pediatrician yesterday, simply because I had never seen someone covered from their scalp to the soles of their feet like this. On many parts of his body, there is no visible white skin at all and his face looks entirely burned. But his doctor assured me that these were, indeed, merely hives. It's just a rather awful case of them.
We have a referral for an allergist and he will hopefully go back to school tomorrow.
So what are hives? Why do we get them? And why do some people get them and others never will? Hives are usually an allergic reaction to something, whether it's food, the outdoors, medications or something else.
In terms of food, EmpowHER's Hive section suggests that the main culprits are often:
- Fresh berries
However, there are other factors like the sun, latex, medications, stress and infections that can cause an outbreak. Because hives are often reaction to something (an allergy), the body releases a nitrogen connected to the immune system called histamine and this in turn causes a physical reaction.
In the case of hives, the raised red and very itchy welts quickly emerge all over the body -- sometimes literally from head to foot.
What's strange about hives is that they can completely disappear from the face, for example, within 10 or 20 minutes and reappear all over the groin area. But not all hives are caused by allergies.