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Hives are also know as Urticaria and refers to a group of disorders in which wealing occurs in the skin.

The weals can be a few millimeters or several centimeters diameter, colored white or red, often surrounded by a red flare, and frequently itchy.

Each weal may last a few minutes or several hours, and may change shape.

Weals may be round, or form rings, a map-like pattern, or giant patches.

The surface weals may be accompanied by deeper swelling of eyelids, lips, hands and elsewhere, called angioedema. Angioedema may occur without urticarial weals.

The weals and swellings occur because of the release of chemicals, particularly histamine, into the tissues.

This causes small blood vessels to leak, allowing fluid to accumulate in the skin.

People often associate acute urticaria with an allergic reaction.

Typically, medicines such as antibiotics, or food, including even tiny amounts of fish, eggs, nuts or chocolate, are responsible.

It depends on previous exposure to the material, and the development of an immune reaction to it.

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