How to make the difference

  • Hives are a type of skin rash that results from an allergic reaction, insect bite, infection, etc.
  • You can identify hives by pressing on the bump – if it turns white, it’s a hive.
  • You should see a doctor immediately if your hives are accompanied by difficulty swallowing

Most people will experience some sort of rash or irritation at some point in their lives. There are many types of rashes that you might experience with different causes and treatments.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between various types of rashes, but understanding the type of rash you’re dealing with can help you better treat it and reduce symptoms, such as itching and swelling.

Urticaria, or hives, is a special type of rash that may require different treatment than other types of rashes. Here’s how to tell the difference between hives and other skin rashes as well as common causes of skin irritation and how to treat them.

How to tell the difference between hives and a rash

A rash is generally defined as any type of skin irritation or swelling. There are thousands of different conditions that can affect the skin and cause different types of rashes with different types of symptoms, says Dr Kellie Reeddermatologist certified by Westlake Dermatology.

Urticaria, on the other hand, is a type of skin rash that has a distinct set of symptoms. Unlike most rashes, hives:

  • To have “bleached”: This means pressing on a hive makes it whiten.
  • Change location: The bumps can disappear and reappear on another part of the body fairly quickly.
  • Change form: Hives appear as irregular papules that often change in shape and appearance. The raised, itchy bumps that accompany hives set it apart from other types of rashes, says Dr. Viktoryia D. Kazlouskayaassistant professor in the department of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Are not scaly: Unlike other types of rashes, which can look dry and blistered, hives are not scaly.

Hives may develop anywhere on the bodybut most often appear on the chest, neck, arms and legs.

If you have hives

Hives can have several different causes, including:

  • Environmental allergens, such as tree and grass pollen, mold or animal dander.
  • Food allergies to milk, peanuts, eggs and shellfish.
  • An allergic reaction to a drug, such as penicillin, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
  • Bacterial infections, such as strep throat
  • insect bites
  • Stress
  • A sudden change in body temperature

In most cases, hives are acute, which means that they come on suddenly, are linked to a particular trigger or allergen, and usually go away. in a few days. In more severe cases, hives can be chronic, persisting for six weeks or more without obvious cause.

Acute urticaria can often be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and home remedies. Here are some ways to find relief:

  • Apply a cool, damp compress to relieve itching and swelling
  • Take an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Zyrtec or Claritin
  • Spread an anti-itch cream, such as Coritzone, or a lotion, such as calamine lotion on the affected area
  • Soak in a lukewarm bath and avoid rubbing your skin with a washcloth or loofah. Instead, gently apply a mild, fragrance-free soap with your hands.

Chronic hives that persist for weeks may require different treatment. Choice to understand:

  • A prescription corticosteroid, such as prednisone. This can reduce inflammation and relieve itching.
  • A prescription injectable medicine called Omalizumab. This medication works by blocking substances in the body that cause hives and is often recommended when antihistamines fail to resolve symptoms.
  • Light therapy. Also called phototherapy, this treatment requires several trips a week for a few months to a dermatologist or a phototherapy treatment center. Light therapy uses UV rays to slow the rapid growth of skin cells which can contribute to chronic urticaria.

Important: In some cases, hives may be a sign of a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Seek immediate medical attention or go to the nearest emergency room if you have hives in addition to:

  • A racing heartbeat
  • Swelling in the mouth or throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling dizzy or dizzy

If you have a rash

There are many types of rashes with many different causes and symptoms. Some of the most common include:

  • Irritant contact dermatitis: This type of rash is caused by contact with an irritant, such as chemicals, perfumes, or certain types of soaps or lotions. Irritant contact dermatitis can cause redness, swelling, and itching.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: You could develop this type of rash if you come into contact with a substance you’re allergic to, such as latex, hair dye, or nickel jewelry. Contact with poison ivy can also cause this type of rash which can produce red, scaly, crusty patches on the skin.
  • Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is an inflammatory condition that can cause dry, cracked, itchy, bumpy patches on the skin that can become red and swollen.
  • Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes a rapid buildup of skin cells that form scaly patches that are often itchy and uncomfortable.

Eczema and psoriasis tend to be more chronic and can wax and wane throughout life, Reed says, while other types of rashes, like irritant contact dermatitis, often resolve once that you know the trigger and can avoid it.

Skin rash treatments

The right treatment for you will depend on the type of rash you are dealing with and its causes.

Broadly speaking, some treatment options for the most common types of rashes to understand:

  • Topical steroids: These are creams or gels that can be applied to the rash to soothe itching and swelling, Reed says. You can find over-the-counter options, like hydrocortisone cream, at pharmacies and pharmacies. Your doctor may also suggest a stronger prescription option if an over-the-counter topical steroid does not resolve your symptoms.
  • Oral medications: If your rash is more severe, your doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid to reduce inflammation or an antihistamine to relieve itching.
  • Organic Products : For more chronic conditions that can cause rashes, such as psoriasis, certain medications, called Organic Products, can help manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Biologic treatments are injections that target the overactive parts of the immune system that cause psoriasis symptoms.

Other remedies like soaking in a lukewarm bath or applying a cool, damp compress to the affected area can also help soothe mild rashes.

If you experience frequent rashes, talk to your doctor who can provide you with a list of common irritants and allergens that may be contributing to your symptoms. Once you identify the triggers for your rashes, you can take steps to avoid them and reduce your symptoms.

Insider’s Takeaways

A rash is any type of skin irritation or inflammation that can cause many different symptoms, including redness, itching, and swelling. There are many types of rashes, each with different causes.

Hives are a type of rash that causes itching on the skin. They are most often the result of some sort of irritating trigger in the environment, such as an allergen, but can also occur in response to stress or sudden changes in body temperature.

Acute hives that clear up within a few days can be treated at home with over-the-counter antihistamines and home remedies. Chronic hives that persist for weeks require evaluation by a dermatologist and different treatment which may include prescription medications or therapies.

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