Just about every piece of medical advice, whether it’s on the Internet or in a magazine, makes the same statement about hives, severe rashes and other skin ailments. If the skin breaks out in this manner and there are no other serious effects, you can often treat the condition yourself by keeping the area clean and using ointments or creams.

If the hives last a week or longer, however, it may be time to seek some medical assistance. An in every case, doctors strongly urge that a person who breaks out with hives then experiences swelling in the mouth should get medical help immediately.

What are hives? They are bumps or patches that have a strong red color. The raised areas or bumps occur because a chemical called histamine works under the skin to draw the fluids out of small blood vessels. This fluid gathers and causes the raised area. The name comes from the itching or “buzzing” sensation. People report that hives feel like there are bees under the skin.

Histamine triggers “the inflammatory response” to foreign substances that might be harmful to the body. According to Wikipedia, “Histamine increases the permeability of the capillaries to white blood cells and other proteins, in order to allow them to engage foreign invaders in the affected tissues.”

Hives can be caused by a number of things. Some people get hives when they eat certain foods. Some people report that strawberries and raspberries seem to be the culprit. Others get hives from items that touch their skin, such as certain brands of perfume, deodorant etc. People may also react this way with specific medications or in the presence of a particular fungus.

When a person experiences intense anxiety or a panic attack they sometimes report a general “itchy” feeling. When we are stressed or become very anxious, the body produces more adrenaline and other chemicals. When these are present in excess they may result in hives or another skin rash. In fact, some doctors report that prolonged stress may lead t

o hives that continue for days or weeks. Severe anxiety may produce the same result. It seems the body is reacting to an unusual situation by producing unusual amounts of certain chemicals.

While most of the changes during a panic attack take place internally – increased heart rate, nausea, muscle tension etc. – hives are a very obvious, external symptom. This occurs because we have a large area of skin that is very sensitive. Human bodies are made in such a way that the more sensitive areas often show the most extreme evidence of a chemical or physical change.

What can a person do immediately when the skin breaks out in this way? Doctors recommend a cool shower. Keep in mind that heat is one of the factors that causes hives and other rashes on the skin. Hot water will only intensify the itchiness and discomfort. If hives are a regular result when you have a panic attack (or when you experience stress) a visit to your doctor may be necessary.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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