What Are the Basics of Urticaria?

What is the definition of urticaria?

Urticaria, also called hives, is a localized edema reaction due to skin and mucosal small blood vessel dilation and increased permeability. It usually disappears within 2 to 24 hours, but new rash can repeatedly occur. The course of urticaria can be delayed from several days to several months.

Acute and chronic urticaria are two common types, but there are also several special types of urticaria: Dermatographic urticaria/artificial urticaria; Delayed skin scratches; Delayed pressure urticaria; Cholinergic urticaria; Cold urticaria; Solar urticaria; Contact urticaria and so on.

 

What causes urticaria?

The causes for urticaria are very complicated, about 3/4 of the patients cannot determine the exact causes, especially chronic urticaria. But the common causes usually include:

  • Insect stings or bites
  • Latex
  • Pollen
  • Some plants, such as poison oak and poison ivy
  • Physical stimulation, such as cold, heat, exercise, sun exposure, pressure, etc.
  • Certain foods, such as peanuts, eggs, nuts, shellfish, etc.
  • Blood transfusions
  • Bacterial infections, such as strep throat or urinary tract infections.
  • Viral infections, such as common cold, infectious mononucleosis and hepatitis.
  • Pet dander
  • Certain medications, such as antibiotics, aspirin and ibuprofen

 

What are the symptoms of urticaria?

Symptoms of urticaria can last anywhere from minutes to months-or even years. Though they may resemble bug bites, urticaria is different in several ways.

In mild cases of urticaria, symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, etc.

In severe cases of urticaria, symptoms may include chest tightness, pale complexion, accelerated heart rate, weak pulse, decreased blood pressure, shortness of breath, etc.

What are the treatments of urticaria?

General Treatment

Treatments for urticaria vary from cause to cause, specific treatment measures are as follows:

  • Cause removal: For each patient, it is necessary to find the underlying causes of the attack and to avoid them. If the causes can be traced back to infections, we should actively treat infected lesions; Medications-induced patients should stop allergic drugs; Foods-induced patients should find the allergic foods and stop eating them anymore.
  • Avoid predisposing factors: Patients of cold urticaria should pay attention to keeping warm; patients of cholinergic urticaria should reduce exercises, sweating and mood swings; patients of contact urticaria should decrease their opportunities of being contacted.

Medications Treatment

The common medications used to treat urticaria are as follows:

Antihistamines
Antihistamines usually include H1 antagonists, like hydroxyzine (Vistaril), and H2 antagonists, like cimetidine (Tagamet).

Drugs that inhibit the degranulation of mast cells and reduce the release of histamine
These drugs usually include ketotifen, sodium cromoglycate, tranilast and the like.

Glucocorticoids
Commonly used glucocorticoids are as follows: prednisone, triamcinolone, dexamethasone, debaosong, etc. In case of emergency, intravenous infusion of hydrocortisone, dexamethasone or methylprednisolone is also used.

Immunosuppressants
Cyclosporine has a better effect, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, immunoglobulin, and tripterygium can be also be tested.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.