Hives (urticaria) is a very common problem. Probably more than twenty percent of the general population experience at least one episode of urticaria and/or angioedema (swelling) during their lifetime. The red itchy bumps of hives may vary in size from very small to very large hives of several inches in diameter. The hives are caused by leaking fluid from the small blood vessels in the upper layer of the skin out into the tissues. In angioedema, the leaky blood vessels are deeper in the skin, and large swelling may result particularly around the eyelids, mouth, hands, or feet. Any area of the body can be involved with urticaria lesions or angioedema. Although not always present, it is very important to assess whether there are any allergic factors contributing to the problem.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. It’s common in children but can occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis is long lasting (chronic) and tends to flare periodically and then subside. It may be accompanied by asthma or allergies. No cure has been found for atopic dermatitis but treatments and skin-care measures can relieve itching and prevent new outbreaks.
Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by a substance that comes into contact with your skin. The rash isn’t contagious or life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable. Possible causes include soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, and plants, such as poison ivy or poison oak. To treat contact dermatitis successfully, you need to identify and avoid the cause of the reaction.