Common Questions About Hives and Angioedema

Skin problems such as eczema, hives, and angioedema are common allergy symptoms that tend to develop in reaction to spring pollens. Though Arizona used to have a milder spring season, it is now subject to a pollen barrage just like other parts of the country (thanks to a bounty of imported plants).

pollen allergens

Let’s take a closer look at hives and angioedema which are distinct but often confused. They manifest with raised skin welts (sometimes red, sometimes skin-colored). They can range in size from a mere millimeter to a couple of inches wide or long.

There are a few key differences:

Depth. Hives (also known as urticaria) affect the surface layers of the skin. Angioedema goes deeper into the tissues.

Affected areas. Hives can develop on multiple parts of the body, but angioedema tends to affect mostly the mouth and eye areas.

Pain vs. itching. Hives are itchy and rarely involve pain. Angioedema is usually tender/painful to the touch and may or may not be itchy.

Causes
Pollens are a prime culprit for triggering allergic skin symptoms. Other contributors may include:

Food
For those with a food allergy to dairy, eggs, fruit, wheat, nuts, etc. hives can result if you eat even a trace of trigger foods.

Medicines
ACE inhibitors, drugs often used for hypertension or congestive heart failure, can induce angioedema.

Environment
Insect bites (mosquitoes, bee stings), pet dander, and, of course, pollen can cause hives and angioedema.

Treatment of Hives and Angioedema
The good news is that only the worst cases of hives or angioedema need to be treated. Mild cases usually resolve themselves. If allergy-induced rashes persist for more than a few days or if they keep recurring, contact an Arizona allergy doctor (allergist). Occasionally, allergies cause chronic hives and angioedema. They can usually be resolved with allergy immunotherapy—either through allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops).

Live in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Phoenix? Contact Family Allergy Clinic for allergy help.