Are Hives Contagious?
Are you scared that touching a hive on another person will make you develop them? Do you think that there are contagious hives? Dive into this article to get more information.
Firstly, Hives are welts on the skin usually caused by an itchy rash and can appear on any part of the body. They are often triggered by an allergic reaction and can also be referred to as urticaria.
Hives are not contagious, which means they won’t appear on your skin by touching the hives on another person. However, the causes of this skin reaction can be contagious. Triggers such as bacterial infections, viruses, strep throat, and the common cold are some causes of Hives that can be contagious.
Types of Hives
Even though allergies trigger hives, some other things can also lead to hives. Therefore, understanding the cause helps address ways to prevent this reaction and avoid the spread of hives.
Here are types of Hives:
1. Allergic Hives
The most common cause of hives is in contact with an allergen. However, allergic hives aren’t contagious.
There are common allergens that can trigger hives. They are food, insect bites, medications and pollen.
2. Infection-induced Hives
There are certain bacterial and fungal infections that can cause hives. Examples of these conditions are cold, mononucleosis and strep throat.
Infection-induced hives are not contagious. However, if the condition that causes them spreads, you too could develop hives if you develop the condition.
These infections can spread through the following ways:
- airborne germs from sneezing and coughing
- poor hygiene
- sharing eating utensils
- direct contact with an infected person’s saliva
- contact with stool
Again, you’re at more risk of developing an infection and getting hives if you:
- are younger than 5 years old or older than 65 years old
- have an undeveloped or suppressed immune system
- are pregnant
- have a medical condition that affects your immune system
Exposing yourself a lot to the sun, cold, or water can give you physical hives. Also, body heat from physical activities can also cause a reaction.
When people have chronic hives or chronic urticaria, welts appear for up to six weeks at a time. In more serious cases, they can last for years.
How long will it be before someone knows if he or she is going to get hives?
Because hives respond to a large number of triggers, most people do not know if they will have them until they meet the agent. Sometimes, urticaria manifests rapidly within minutes or hours after contact with the triggering agent. Other times, hives may take longer to develop. About 70% of patients who develop hives do not know when they encountered the triggering agent. Often, the triggering agent is not identified. Some patients know immediately if they will have hives if they inadvertently come into contact with the triggering agent that has caused them to develop hives in the past. Pregnant women have an increased risk of developing hives.
When Will Someone No Longer Get Hives?
Hives are not contagious but are the result of an agent that is not normally in the body and triggers an allergic reaction. People who become insensitive to the substances that cause hives will no longer receive them. This may occur with the patient’s age or with desensitization procedures performed by a medical specialist (immunologist or dermatologist). Otherwise, people who know their triggers will no longer have hives if they avoid them (for example, avoiding foods or medications that are known to cause hives in a given person).
How Do Hives Spread?
Hives are not contagious and are not transmitted from person to person. For a person with hives, the rash can occur in localized areas or in many areas such as the chest, back, and limbs. For some people, the stronger the allergic response, the faster and more widespread hives become. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or hydroxyzine (Atarax) can prevent or reduce the spread of hives in an individual. Epinephrine can be used in the treatment of severe urticaria.
Most patients who develop hives will not need any medical treatment. Although pediatricians and primary care doctors can treat hives, it is sometimes necessary to call specialists. In addition, the specialists who often treat hives are specialists in emergency medicine, dermatologists and specialists in allergies and immunology.
Are there home remedies for hives?
If your hives are mild and you do not need emergency care, there are some things you can do to help reduce symptoms. To avoid or at least reduce the symptoms associated with hives, you can do the following:
- Cool the area with hives with a cold shower, wet towels or a fan.
- Wear light and loose clothing to reduce skin irritation.
- Do not scratch or irritate the area.
- Avoid known triggers of hives.
- For some patients, topical lotions can soothe the skin.
When should someone seek medical care for hives?
If the hives are widespread and the person develops wheezing, throat compression, difficulty swallowing and/or shortness of breath, the person or their parents should seek emergency care immediately. Furthermore, injected epinephrine (EpiPen) may be necessary for these individuals to prevent respiratory tract involvement. Similarly, patients with chronic urticaria should contact their doctor for an evaluation.
When to call a doctor
Hives usually disappear within 48 hours unless you develop a chronic case of hives. Chronic urticaria can last or reappear for up to six weeks at a time. Find out 15 ways to get rid of hives
You should seek immediate medical attention if in addition to hives you experience:
- shortness of breath
- throat tightening
- dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing
How To Prevent Hives
By changing your lifestyle and taking precautions, you can help prevent hive reactions.
If you have a known allergy, you can take the following steps to prevent hives:
- Avoid foods to which you are allergic.
- Take an EpiPen with you in case of an allergic emergency.
- Find alternatives to medications or prescriptions that contain allergens.
Furthermore, contagious bacteria can also cause conditions that trigger hives. Here are some tips you can try to avoid becoming infected with these bacteria:
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Practice good hygiene.
- Get vaccinated against preventable infections.
- Limit contact with people who are sick or have hives.
- Avoid hard soaps that can cause irritation.
- Avoid tight clothing.
Summary and Conclusion
Hives are not contagious. Therefore, touching an infected person, or sharing things with an infected person will not get you infected. However, you can get infected with the contact of the causative agents like contagious bacteria which trigger conditions that cause hives.
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