Urticaria, commonly known as hives, is a skin condition characterized by the sudden appearance of raised, red, and itchy welts or wheals on the skin. These welts can vary in size and shape and may be surrounded by areas of redness. Urticaria is typically caused by the release of histamine and other chemicals in response to an allergen or other triggers. Here are key points about urticaria:

1. Symptoms:

  • Raised Welts: Red or pink welts that can be small or large.
  • Itching: The affected areas are usually itchy.
  • Swelling: Swelling may occur, especially around the eyes, lips, and other areas.

2. Types of Urticaria:

  • Acute Urticaria: Sudden onset and typically lasts for a few hours to a few weeks.
  • Chronic Urticaria: Persists for six weeks or more, and the cause may be more challenging to identify.

3. Causes:

  • Allergic Reactions: Common triggers include certain foods, medications, insect stings, or contact with allergens.
  • Non-Allergic Causes: Urticaria can also be triggered by factors such as stress, infections, or autoimmune conditions.

4. Diagnosis:

  • Diagnosis is often based on the appearance of the welts and a review of the individual’s medical history.
  • In some cases, additional tests or allergy testing may be recommended to identify specific triggers.

5. Treatment:

  • Antihistamines: The primary treatment for urticaria involves antihistamine medications to relieve itching and reduce the formation of welts.
  • Corticosteroids: In severe cases, short-term use of oral corticosteroids may be prescribed.
  • Avoidance of Triggers: Identifying and avoiding known triggers is an important aspect of managing chronic urticaria.

6. Chronic Urticaria and Autoimmune Urticaria:

  • Chronic urticaria lasting for more than six weeks may be associated with autoimmune factors.
  • Autoimmune urticaria is when the immune system mistakenly targets healthy cells, leading to the release of histamine.

7. Physical Urticaria:

  • Physical stimuli such as pressure, cold, heat, or sunlight can trigger hives in some individuals.

8. Angioedema:

  • In some cases, urticaria may be accompanied by angioedema, which involves swelling in deeper layers of the skin.
  • Angioedema can cause swelling around the eyes, lips, and in other areas.

9. Management:

  • Individuals with chronic urticaria may benefit from identifying and managing stressors, practicing good skin care, and taking prescribed medications.

10. Emergency Cases: – Anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, can present with symptoms of urticaria. – Seek immediate medical attention if there are signs of difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, or a rapid drop in blood pressure.