What is hives (urticaria)?
Hives is a group of common skin conditions that affect 1 in 5 people in their lifetime. Most of the time it goes away by itself, however in 1% of the population it is a chronic disease that lasts for months or years.1 This means that over 70 million people are affected by chronic hives worldwide and up to two thirds of these people have chronic spontaneous urticaria – a form of the condition that can occur unpredictably without an identifiable trigger.2
What are the symptoms of hives?
What are the different terms that doctors use?
- Hives – describes both the disease (urticaria) as well as the red, itchy bumps (wheals)
- Urticaria – a group of skin diseases which are characterised by the presence of hives, painful swelling or both
- Flaring or whealing – describes when hives (wheals) are present
- Angioedema – swelling in deeper layers of the skin and often involving mucous membranes
- Acute urticaria – the hives outbreak lasts for less than 6 weeks
- Chronic urticaria – the hives are present every day for at least 6 weeks.1
In most cases of chronic hives, the trigger is not known. This means the hives are spontaneous and can occur at any time without warning. This form of hives is not caused by an allergy but is linked to an over-active immune system.2
Assess your hives with this simple tool and take the results to your doctorSYMPTOM CHECKER
Explore on this siteUrticaria definition and how to pronounce it
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. ASCIA Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria (CSU) Guidelines. 2015. (accessed 9 October 2018).
- Maurer M et al. Allergy 2011; 66:317–330.