The most common sign of allergy are raised, itchy lumps called hives which affects 20% of Australians. Hives are an inflammatory response to an irritant or foreign substance. They may appear in a local area or all over the skin and usually last less than 24 hours. However, hives can persist for days or weeks (acute), and if it is chronic, it may last for longer than six weeks up to years.

Common causes of hives are:

  • pollen
  • food
  • chemicals in food or drugs
  • viruses and other infections
  • thyroid and other hormonal disorders
  • sun, heat, cold
  • insect bites
  • scratching the skin
  • exercising
  • occupational allergens, such as latex and chemicals

Trying to find the cause or trigger involves investigative work, and approximately 50% of patients will not find a cause. However, it is important to find relief. The use of antihistamines and steroid creams may be of benefit. 

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