Hives Symptoms: What They Look Like

You may notice that bug bites pick up in the summer, when you’re outside more often and exposing more skin, but they can occur any time of year—especially if you happen to be preyed upon inside of your home. (Spiders, bed bugs, and fleas don’t hibernate in the winter, sadly.) There are ways to deter the critters from coming your way, especially if you use insect repellent or bug spray, but there’s no perfect solution to ward off the pests.

Although it’s not always possible to know which bug is to blame for your latest bite (or bites), you can often get a pretty good idea based on your skin, the site of the sting, and a few other clues. Ready to get to the bottom of your bug bite mystery? Here are pictures of the most common bug bites to keep on your radar.

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When starting the scabies prescription, make sure to clean the house, vacuum rugs and carpets, and change the bedding. Follow the healthcare provider’s instructions on how to use the medication for best results.

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Hives tend to resolve within a few days. To relieve the itching, apply a cold washcloth to the area or use an anti-itch cream. Try not to scratch the hives and avoid things that trigger the hives.

“Hives will usually have an area of skin that welts up, goes away in a few hours, and then reappears somewhere else,” he says. Other skin issues that are often mistaken for hives tend to last for more than one day in the same location, he explains.

Contact dermatitis is a skin rash that occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or allergen. Common causes include plants, chemicals, jewelry, and cosmetic fragrances.

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Dyshidrotic eczema , also known as pompholyx , is a skin condition that causes small, incredibly itchy bumps on the hands or feet. The bumps are fluid-filled blisters that usually last for three to four weeks.

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Hives have many different causes they can include:

“To the untrained eye, hives can have a similar appearance to other common skin conditions,” Dr. Choudhury says. He says one way to tell the difference is by how quickly the welts clear up.

The bedding and clothing that has been in the room with the bedding will also need to be treated to kill the bed bugs or be sealed and discarded.

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Itchy bumps on the skin rarely require someone to contact pest control. The one exception is for bed bugs. Bed bugs can be removed without pest control, but it can be difficult since they are such good hiders and may be resistant to pesticides. A pest control company will have the right equipment and know where to look to remove the bed bugs.

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Reproduced with permission from © DermNet New Zealand 2023.

A healthcare provider may also suggest using phototherapy, which uses ultraviolet (UV) light to treat psoriasis.

Generally, you’ll know you have hives simply by seeing the hives themselves. If you experience other symptoms, such as swelling in the eyes, lips, or inside of the throat, or if you have trouble breathing, you should call 911 or see a doctor immediately, says Sapna Palep, MD, a dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. These symptoms indicate you may be experiencing a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. (5)

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If you cannot narrow down the cause, you should contact a healthcare provider. A healthcare provider can review your health history and determine if testing is necessary. Having a correct diagnosis will help you get started on the right treatment and provide faster healing.

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Treating bed bug bites can typically be done at home. Start by washing the bites with soap and water. Then apply an anti-itch cream. The bites should heal within one to two weeks.

Guttate psoriasis is usually triggered by a streptococcal (strep) infection.

Hives may appear on the body grouped together and take over a large area of the skin, or as a couple of individual welts that show up here and there. (4) They can appear anywhere on the body, though some people get them in the same spot over and over again (usually as a result of a specific trigger). (4)

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