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The Difference Between Hives And Atopic Dermatitis

26 February 2009 No Comment

Hives and atopic dermatitis are both conditions that are triggered by allergic reactions. However, they are not the same disorder. Atopic dermatitis is a common form of eczema that causes dry, flaky skin. The area of the atopic dermatitis may be red and inflamed. The trigger of atopic dermatitis may have had contact with the skin in the area of the eczema.

Hives, also called urticaria, is triggered by an allergen. Instead of the dry, inflamed rash of atopic dermatitis, hives can manifest as red, itchy, raised welts on the skin. Hives can be caused by coming in contact with an allergen trigger like latex or by consuming food to medication that triggers the reaction. Atopic dermatitis or hives may have an unknown cause.

A case of hives usually last less than twenty-four hours, while an atopic dermatitis rash can be present for months. Both conditions can cause intense itchiness. While atopic dermatitis is usually localized on one area of the body, hives can be widespread and often changes location on the body. For example, a case of hives may appear on the trunk first, then clear there and be present on the neck or arms. The red patches or welts can change shape and size during an outbreak as well.

Histamine causes hives by causing the leakage of fluid from small blood vessels. Some people take anti-histamine to treat the hives. Most cases of hives will resolve on their own without any medical intervention. Rarely, hives can cause difficulty breathing or even shock. This is a potentially life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. However, most cases of hives are relatively mild and are gone within hours without any complications.

While atopic dermatitis can be extremely uncomfortable, it is not life-threatening. The treatment for atopic dermatitis commonly involves two steps. First the allergic reaction is stopped. Secondly, the dry skin of the rash itself is treated. Some people use anti-histamines to help stop the allergen from causing irritation.

Doctors may prescribe cortisone or corticosteroids. An immune modulator ointment such as Elidel may be used. The treatment of the flaky or peeling dry skin of the rash is commonly treated with moisturizers. People with a tendency to develop atopic dermatitis are encouraged to keep skin moisturized to help prevent the development of the dry rashes.

People who get hives cannot prevent hives from hydrating the skin. Hives has nothing to do with the condition of the skin itself. Hives does not cause changes of the skin that require treatment like atopic dermatitis does. The inflammation of hives occurs under the skin. Though the cause of hives can be similar, the only similarity in treatment is the use of anti-histamine which may or may not be used for atopic dermatitis or hives.

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