Manage Red, Itchy Skin Reactions for Bryn Mawr, Newtown Square, Philadelphia, and the Main Line

Hives, also known as urticaria, are pale red bumps or raised welts on the skin that flare up as a reaction to a particular stimulus. They can be classified as acute if they resolve within hours to six weeks. However, if they persist beyond six weeks and recur frequently over months to years, they are classified as chronic. For patients dealing with hives, Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute offers diagnosis, treatments, and education on potential causes.

Find the most effective treatments for hives at Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute. To schedule an appointment for hives in our Newtown Square or Bryn Mawr offices, Please BOOK ONLINE, call 610.525.5028, or Contact Us.

Book online

What Causes Hives?

Pro-inflammatory chemicals called histamines, which are released into the bloodstream when your body has an allergic reaction, are intended to protect the body from foreign substances. However, they are also responsible for the swelling, itching, and other unwanted symptoms associated with hives.

Identifying the cause can be easy or difficult. Common causes include medications, topical skincare products, food, insect bites, pollen, viral infections, exercise, emotional stress, and animal dander. Prolonged exposure to the cold can also cause hives. In some cases, the offending agent may never be identified.

What Are the Symptoms of Hives?

The most obvious signs are the welts that occur on the skin. They may be red, pink, or the same color as the skin itself. These bumps can be small and round, oval, worm-shaped, or larger and asymmetrical. The welts usually appear in clusters, and it’s normal for them to become larger and for new ones to appear. Itching associated with the bumps may range from mild to intense.

What Are the Different Types of Hives?

Acute urticaria

Temporary rashes that occur for less than six weeks and are commonly caused by foods, medications, infections, insect bites, or diseases.

Chronic urticaria

The welts are ongoing for more than six weeks and may not have an easily identifiable cause. They may reoccur during the span of months or years and may affect your quality of life.


A type of acute urticaria that is mild and usually dissipates on its own without treatment. It’s caused by scratching or applying constant pressure on the skin.

What Are the Risk Factors for Hives?

People who have previously had hives, have had other allergic reactions in the past, have a family history of urticaria or related conditions, or have angioedema—a hive-like reaction that affects the deeper layers of skin—are more susceptible to future episodes. People of all ages, genders, and races can develop hives.

CIR Logo BrynMawr

Meet Our Dermatologists &
Certified Physician Assistants

Our board-certified dermatologists & PA-Cs are dedicated to detecting and treating skin cancers. We treat the full spectrum of skin diseases. Our Mohs and Plastic Surgery practices are integrated, and offer patients the most advanced skin cancer treatment, delivering superior outcomes.

What Can Be Done About Hives?

The most effective treatment is identifying the possible cause and avoiding that possible trigger. Routine blood tests may be performed to rule out an underlying contributory condition. Dermatologists will ask you to keep a detailed journal of when the symptoms appear to help identify the offending agent.

A dermatologist often prescribes oral antihistamines to provide relief for the symptoms. More severe or chronic cases may call for additional prescription medications to control them.

Aside from taking antihistamines, patients can apply cool compresses to the affected skin, keep the room they’re sleeping or working in cool, avoid hot water, avoid irritants, bathe in oatmeal or baking soda, and wear loose-fitting clothing to ease the symptoms of hives.

Get more details on hives by contacting Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute on the Main Line, serving patients in Bryn Mawr, Newtown Square, and Philadelphia since 1968. To schedule an appointment, Please BOOK ONLINE, call 610.525.5028, or Contact Us.

Book online