Glossary of Chronic Hives Terms

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last updated: September 2022

A

Acute

A health condition lasting for less than 6 weeks.1

Allergist/Immunologist

A doctor who is an expert in treating allergies, asthma, and other immune system conditions.2

Allergy

An oversensitive immune reaction to a particular substance, which is called an allergen.3

Anaphylaxis

Swelling of the airways because of an allergic reaction, which can potentially close off the airways. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.2,3

Angioedema

Swelling of the area beneath the skin, especially the lips, face, and extremities.2,4

Antidepressants

Medicines used to treat depression and anxiety. Some types, such as Silenor® (doxepin), can be used to treat chronic hives.5

Antihistamine

A type of drug that can treat conditions caused by high levels of histamine, which is a chemical produced by your immune system.3,5

Autoimmune disorder

A condition that happens when the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake.2,6

B

Biopsy

A procedure to remove a piece of tissue, such as skin, to test in a laboratory.5

C

Chronic

A health condition lasting for longer than 6 weeks.1

Comorbidity

A condition that is present at the same time as another condition.2

Complication

A side effect of a disease or treatment. Complications can negatively affect health outcomes.

Corticosteroid

A type of drug that reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system.5,7

Cutaneous

Describes a disorder or symptom that affects only the skin.1

Cyclosporine

A drug that may help relieve symptoms of chronic hives by suppressing the immune system.5

D

Dermatologist

A doctor who specializes in treating conditions of the skin, hair, and nails.2,8

F

First-generation antihistamine

The first type of antihistamines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They cause drowsiness because they can cross the blood-brain barrier.5,9

H

Histamine

A chemical released by your immune system. This leads to hives, itchiness, and other allergy symptoms.2

Hives

Raised, red bumps or splotches on the skin that may itch, burn, or sting.2

I

Idiopathic

Relating to a condition that happens without a known cause.2

Inducible

Describes hives caused by exposure to a physical stimulus or trigger. Inducible means the same thing as physical.2

L

Leukotriene-receptor antagonist

A type of drug used to treat allergies and asthma by blocking the effect of a chemical called leukotriene.5,10

O

Over-the-counter

Describes medicines you can buy without a prescription.9

P

Physical

Describes hives caused by exposure to a physical stimulus or trigger. Physical means the same thing as inducible.2

S

Second-generation antihistamine

The second class of antihistamines to be approved by the FDA. These drugs do not cause drowsiness and are safer than first-generation antihistamines.5,9

Spontaneous

Describes hives that arise without a known cause or trigger.2

Symptom

A sign or evidence of a certain condition.2

Systemic

Describes a condition or symptom that affects multiple organs or the whole body.2

T

Topical

Describes a treatment that is used on a particular spot on the skin.5

U

Urticaria

The medical term for hives.2,4

W

Wheals/Welts

Areas of the skin that are raised, red, and itchy. Wheals/welts mean the same thing as hives.2,4

X

Xolair® (omalizumab)

A medicine used to treat chronic hives by blocking proteins involved in the allergy response.5

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