Chronic hives, also known as urticaria, are batches of raised, red or white itchy welts (wheals) of various sizes that appear and disappear. While most cases of hives go away within a few weeks or less, for some people they are a long-term problem. Chronic hives are defined as hives that last more than six weeks or hives that go away, but recur frequently.

In most cases of chronic hives, a cause is never clearly identified. In some cases, chronic hives may be related to an underlying autoimmune disorder, such as thyroid disease or lupus.

While the underlying cause of chronic hives is usually not identified, treatment can help with symptoms. For many people, antihistamine medications provide the best relief.

Sep. 17, 2011