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Definition of Hives

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Hives: A raised, itchy area of skin that may be a sign of an allergic reaction. It can be rounded or flat-topped but is always elevated above the surrounding skin. It reflects circumscribed dermal edema (local swelling of the skin). The hives are usually well circumscribed but may be coalescent and will blanch with pressure. A single spot is almost always gone by 24 hours but the process may stay for weeks to months. Approximately 20% of the population has experienced a bout of hives.

The hives are also called urticaria.

Reviewed on 12/12/2018

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