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Hives vs. Rash: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 3, 2023
Hives are itchy, raised welts; rash is a broad term for skin irritation.

Key Differences

Hives, also known as urticaria, are red, itchy, raised welts on the skin. Rash, on the other hand, refers to any change in skin color, texture, or appearance.
Hives typically result from an allergic reaction or certain medical conditions. Rash can be the result of a variety of causes, ranging from allergies to infections.
The appearance of hives is often more distinct and uniform, presenting as round, raised welts. Rash can manifest in numerous ways, such as flat red patches, tiny bumps, or blisters.
Hives usually appear suddenly and can last for hours or several days. Rash durations vary depending on the cause, and some rashes can persist for weeks.
Treatment for hives usually aims to reduce itching and inflammation. Rash treatment varies based on the underlying cause and may include moisturizers, antihistamines, or antibiotics.

Comparison Chart


Itchy, raised welts
Change in skin appearance

Common Causes

Allergies, infections


Round, uniform welts
Varies: patches, bumps


Hours to days
Can persist for weeks

Treatment Focus

Reduce itching
Based on underlying cause

Hives and Rash Definitions


Itchy, raised skin welts.
She got hives after eating strawberries.


Change in skin's color or texture.
The rash made his skin feel rough.


Elevated patches often caused by histamine.
Antihistamines helped reduce her hives.


Visible skin outbreak.
A red rash appeared on her neck overnight.


Sudden skin response to allergens.
The doctor said the hives were due to a new medication.


Abnormal skin condition or lesion.
He went to the doctor to check the rash on his arm.


Red, swollen marks on the skin.
His hives were the result of a bee sting.


Skin’s reaction to allergens or irritants.
She had a rash after using the new lotion.


Allergic skin reaction forming bumps.
The hives spread quickly across her arm.


Broad term for skin irritation.
The poison ivy caused a rash on his hands.


Itchy, swollen, red areas of the skin which can appear quickly in response to an allergen or due to other conditions.


Resulting from or acting with ill-considered haste or boldness.


Plural of hive


A visible lesion or group of lesions on the skin, caused by any of numerous factors including infectious agents, drugs, and allergies.


The croup.


An outbreak of many instances within a brief period
A rash of burglaries.


An itchy skin eruption characterized by weals with pale interiors and well-defined red margins; usually the result of an allergic response to insect bites or food or drugs


Acting too quickly without considering the consequences and risks; not careful; hasty.
Rash words spoken in the heat of debate


What can cause a rash?

Rashes can result from allergies, infections, skin conditions, or irritants.

What is a rash?

A rash is a general term for any change in the skin's color, texture, or appearance.

What causes hives?

Hives can be caused by allergens, certain foods, medications, or underlying medical conditions.

How do hives look?

Hives usually appear as red, itchy, round, and raised welts.

Can rashes scar?

Some rashes, if not treated or if scratched, can lead to scarring.

Do both hives and rashes require a doctor's visit?

While minor hives and rashes may resolve on their own, persistent or severe cases should be seen by a doctor.

Are rashes contagious?

Some rashes, especially those caused by infections, can be contagious.

Can hives and rash appear simultaneously?

Yes, hives can be a manifestation of a rash due to the same cause.

When should I be concerned about a rash?

If a rash is painful, rapidly spreading, or accompanied by other symptoms, seek medical attention.

Are hives painful?

Hives are typically itchy, but they can also burn or sting.

What are hives?

Hives are itchy, raised welts on the skin, often due to allergies.

How are hives treated?

Hives are often treated with antihistamines to reduce itching.

Can a viral infection cause a rash?

Yes, certain viral infections can result in a rash.

Do hives always indicate an allergy?

No, while hives often result from allergies, they can also be caused by other factors.

What’s the first step if I develop a rash?

If you develop a rash, it's important to identify and avoid the potential cause, and consult a healthcare professional.

Are there home remedies for hives?

Cool compresses and oatmeal baths can soothe hives, but always consult a doctor.

Can hives be considered a rash?

Yes, hives are a specific type of rash.

How long do hives last?

Hives can last for hours to several days, depending on the cause.

Are all rashes itchy?

No, not all rashes are itchy; it depends on the cause.

Can stress cause hives?

Yes, stress can sometimes trigger hives.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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