What Is Urticaria ?

Hives or Urticaria is the pinkish rash with long lines or welts in a criss-cross pattern that come up suddenly, anywhere on the body, often with zero provocation.
The rash is accompanied by itching which can vary from a mild itch to a mad intolerable itch. Some patients report a direct link between the rash and things they eat, drink or do. Tight clothing, undressing, friction, zari border, bathing or getting wet in the rain, exercising, alcohol intake, intake of hot tea, spicy food, sun exposure can trigger the rash.

What are the types of Urticaria?

Dermatographic Urticaria

It is also called Dermographism which literally means ‘writing on the skin’. Those who suffer from it know why it is called so.

Dermographism is a skin disorder in which the skin becomes raised and inflamed when stroked, rubbed or scratched. It is caused by the release of a protein called histamine which then leads to leakage in small blood vessels and the subsequent accumulation of fluid under the skin. It is usually associated with severe itching. The condition can last for many years. Symptoms are induced by tight or abrasive clothing, watches, spectacles, heat, cold or anything that causes stress to the skin or the patient.

What are the symptoms of Urticaria?

The symptoms of Urticaria may last for a few minutes to several hours. Often there are recurring bouts that go on for months or years.
The hives can appear on any area of the body, change shape, disappear and reappear over short periods of time. Urticaria shows up as weals or angioedema.

weal

Iis a superficial skin colored swelling surrounded by redness that lasts anything from a few minutes to 24 hours. They can itch and burn. Weals may be round or irregular in shape, may form rings or come up in the form of giant patches. Pressing the centre of a weal makes it turn white, a process called blanching.

Angioedema

Is a deeper swelling within the skin or the mucous membrane and can be skin colored or red. It usually resolves within 72 hours. Angioedema is usually localized. It commonly affects the face (eyelids & lips), hands and feel.

What Are The causes Of Urticaria ?

When an allergen or offending agent comes in contact with the body, it can stimulate the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamine makes blood plasma leak out of small blood vessels in the skin causing hives or angioedema. It can be triggered by many substances or situations like:-

  • Some foods (especially peanuts, eggs, nuts and shellfish)
  • Artificial food colors
  • Canned foods which have preservatives
  • Medications, such as antibiotics (especially penicillin and sulfa), aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Insect stings or bites
  • Physical stimuli, such as pressure, cold, heat, exercise or sun exposure
  • Latex
  • Pregnancy
  • Travel
  • Blood transfusions
  • Bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections and streptococcal throat infection
  • Viral infections, including the common cold, infectious mononucleosis and hepatitis
  • Animal dander from pets
  • Pollen
  • Some plants, such as poison oak and poison ivy

How is urticaria treated?

Acute Urticaria is treated with anti-allergy medications that block the effect of histamine. Eliminating the allergen or the offending agent is the best way to treat chronic Urticaria. In cases where the cause remains unknown or is such that cannot be eliminated, a combination of therapies consisting of the below is prescribed.

External applications

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Oral Medication

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Dietary Advice

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Avoid Triggers

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