Allergies

Allergies Articles

Hives (Urticaria)

Hives, also called urticaria, are circumscribed swellings on the skin that often are itchy. Often they are pink or red, but they don't have to be. Hives happen when the cells in the skin called mast cells release histamine, a chemical that causes tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to leak fluid. When this leaking fluid accumulates in the skin, it forms the swellings that we recognize as hives. Hives can be triggered by physical factors such as heat, cold, exercise, sunlight, stress, sustained pressure on a skin area (such as from a belt or shoulder strap), a sudden increase in body temperature (from a fever or a hot bath or shower) or from an irritating chemical, cosmetic or soap applied to the skin. Hives also can be one symptom of a whole-body (systemic) allergic reaction to something that was: Hives probably affect about 20% of people in the United States at some time in life, with the greatest number of episodes occurring in people aged 20 to 30. In rare cases, allergic reactions that trigger hives set off a chain reaction throughout the body, resulting in a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. Sometimes, hives last for six weeks or more, a condition called chronic (or idiopathic) urticaria. Often, no cause is found for this chronic condition, and it usually goes away on its own after several weeks. (Locked) More »

The risk of inactive ingredients in everyday drugs

Inactive ingredients serve many purposes in medications. For example, artificial sweeteners mask a bitter taste, fatty acids help promote the absorption of some drugs, and lactose and other sugars bind ingredients together. But inactive ingredients may also cause adverse reactions, such as an allergic response or gastrointestinal symptoms. It’s best to carefully read a medication’s ingredient list before taking the pill, and consult a doctor if there are any ingredients that are a concern. (Locked) More »

Nothing to sneeze at

Older adults can develop seasonal allergies—also known as hay fever, even if they never had them before. The best ways to help avoid allergy symptoms and manage their severity is to track the daily pollen count, use certain over-the-counter medication as needed, and potentially take allergy vaccines to build up resistance to specific allergens. More »

Choosing an over-the-counter allergy medication

There are two primary ways over-the-counter (OTC) medications help manage allergies. One is by blocking the effects of histamine with a medication called an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratidine (Claritin). Another way is by suppressing the immune system response before it releases histamine. This is done with corticosteroid nasal sprays. OTC versions include budesonide (Rhinocort), fluticasone propionate (Flonase), and triamcinolone (Nasacort). A combination of an antihistamine and a corticosteroid nasal spray is often the most effective treatment. (Locked) More »

Common summer skin rashes

Several rashes can cause discomfort during the summer months. People often develop an itchy, oozing rash after brushing against certain plants, such as poison ivy. A rash of tiny bumps with a prickly sensation (known as prickly heat) can result from sweating while wearing tight clothing. Some people get an itchy rash as an allergic reaction to sun exposure. It helps to see a doctor if one has poison ivy or if a rash persists and interferes with sleeping, working, or relaxing. More »

Is poison ivy contagious?

A rash from poison ivy can’t be passed from one person to another, but plant oil remaining on clothing or other items can cause a reaction. (Locked) More »