Swelling & Rashes

Swelling & Rashes

Swelling & Rashes

Sometimes people will have unexplained swelling of body parts or areas. These can range from just mild (such as swelling of a foot or hand) to life threatening (swelling of the throat). Sometimes these swelling occur with hives or itching and in some cases there is no itch or rash involved.


Most of the swellings that occur in people will be allergic in nature. They will often involve swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or around the eyes. These are almost always associated with itching. These types of swelling generally do not last long but can be quite severe and even life threatening if they involve the airway. Food allergy and insect sting allergy can often induce this type of swelling.

Another type of swelling (HAE or hereditary angioedema) is rare and is driven by a different pathway than allergic swelling. The major difference with this type of swelling is there is usually no associated itching and swells can last for days. These swellings can cause a temporary disfiguring appearance of the face in some people or life threatening swelling of the throat in others. Almost all persons affected with this type have bouts of severe abdominal pain and swelling. It does not respond to antihistamines, epinephrine, or steroids so appropriate diagnosis is critical for appropriate treatment.


Skin rashes or eruptions are something almost every single person will have at some point in their life. Sometimes rashes can be from something as simple as coming in contact with an item (such as poison oak or ivy) and only affect the area the substance touched. Other rashes can be from something going on inside the body (such as lupus or celiac disease) and act as a “window” inside the body. Many rashes can have a very similar appearance with one another and thus make it very difficult to figure out the cause.

Common rashes that occur in the allergy realm are hives and eczema. Hives can look like mosquito bites with central swelling (the wheal) surrounded by redness (the flare). Hives can vary in size and shape but are often very itchy. They can last for a few hours to years in some people. Eczema can be described as dry, itchy patches of skin that can vary in severity. It can occur anywhere on the body but is often found on the bends of the arms and legs, cheeks, and torso. Eczema is strongly associated with allergies.

Determining what your rash may be and what it may respond to can be quite a challenge but there are some treatments that can be very beneficial to help alleviate patient suffering.