Many conditions can cause raised, red skin welts that may or may not itch, including allergies, hives, insect bites, and infection somewhere in the body. The welts, sometimes called skin wheals, usually go away in a few days but can be uncomfortable while on the surface of the skin. In some people, cat hair provokes skin welts, causing fluid to build up under the top layer of skin. Certain medications may induce welts in people who are allergic to something in the formula.
Dermatographia is a condition in those with ultra-sensitive skin who develop welts from clothing rubbing against the body. Scratching an itch can also produce wheals in people with this condition. Often, they are also highly sensitive to sunlight and cold temperature, or an abrupt change in temperature. The skin is typically very dry and itchy, and red lines may be present. Moisturizers help ease dermatographia, along with antihistamine medication to control scratching, and it usually disappears quickly.
Hives, or urticaria, can create intense itching along with bumpy welts. Allergies to food, pollen, or drugs can cause hives to erupt anywhere on the body. Among the most common of skin welts in humans, these conditions usually disappear within 12 hours.
If hives last more than six weeks, a case is referred to as chronic hives. Patients with welts that don't diminish with treatment should be tested for a wide range of conditions that may be producing wheals. A weak immune system might be to blame, or an internal infection that generates a rash. Physicians routinely check for different types of cancer, lupus, and internal parasites in patients with chronic urticaria.
Foods have been linked to allergies causing skin rashes or hives, including nuts, dairy products, and eggs. Some people are sensitive to yeast and break out in skin welts after eating baked goods containing yeast. Shellfish is another common source of allergic reactions in those who are sensitive to this type of seafood. Food additives and preservative are not tolerated well by some and can lead to rashes or welts.
Along with antihistamine medication, some doctors prescribe steroid treatment for severe cases of hives or similar skin conditions. According to some studies, ulcer medication can block receptors and cause itching. Natural remedies include oatmeal baths to calm itching and hasten healing. Baking soda paste can also be effective for itchy skin. Drinking lots of water aids in flushing pollen or allergens out of the body.