Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

feeling fine

FDA approval brings help to people with chronic hives

Urticaria, more commonly known as "hives" or "welts," is characterized by large, raised, round or irregularly shaped itchy, red lesions that can occur anywhere on the body. Many times the hives are accompanied by swelling, medically known as angioedema, which often affects the eyelids, lips, ears, hands or feet. The hives come and go, with each particular episode lasting less than 24 hours.

Acute urticaria is when the hives occur for six weeks or less, and is more likely due to allergies to certain foods, medications, insect stings or infections. Most cases of acute hives can be treated with antihistamines or a short course of oral steroids.

Chronic urticaria is when hives last for more than six weeks and sometimes can be a recurrent problem for years. Ninety-five percent of chronic hives are "idiopathic," meaning there is no known cause. The remaining 5 percent of chronic hives may be due to an underlying condition, such as a thyroid disorder, autoimmune problem, liver disease, chronic infection or, very rarely, cancer. Often, hives flare up with stress.

Last time I (Dr. Mangat) wrote an article on hives, I was suffering from chronic urticaria and trying to gain control of my hives.

I am happy to say that my hives are gone and have not recurred for the past 18 months.

I am also excited to report that the FDA recently approved a very effective treatment for chronic idiopathic urticaria: Xolair (or Omalizumab). The medication, which has been available for more than a decade and has been used in the treatment of asthma, has been approved for the treatment of chronic idiopathic urticaria in people older than 12 who have experienced minimal benefit with antihistamines.

The results have been dramatic, with some patients reporting relief in the first seven days. Many of the patients had complete resolution of their hives by 12 weeks. The medication is injected once every four weeks. The duration of treatment has not been established, but patients in research studies received the medication for 12 to 24 weeks. As with any medication, there may be side effects and risk involved, so it is best to speak to your allergist to see if this medication is right for you.

Hives can be an extremely frustrating condition for patients and doctors alike. Patients are often left feeling miserable with uncontrolled itching while the doctors have exhausted all possible therapies. It is a relief to know that there is now a medication that is effective and can dramatically improve the lives of those suffering with chronic hives.

Dr. Mona V. Mangat and Dr. Ami K. Degala are board-certified allergists and immunologists at Bay Area Allergy & Asthma in St. Petersburg. Find them at

FDA approval brings help to people with chronic hives 05/01/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2014 6:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.