What Is Urticaria
Urticaria, commonly known as hives, is a skin condition characterized by the sudden appearance of raised, itchy, and often red or pale welts or bumps on the skin. These welts, or wheals, can vary in size and shape, ranging from small dots to larger patches. Urticaria can occur anywhere on the body and may change in location and size over time.
What are the Types Of Urticaria
- Acute Urticaria: is the most common form of urticaria and typically lasts less than six weeks. It can be triggered by various factors such as allergic reactions to certain foods, medications, insect bites or stings, infections, and exposure to certain chemicals.
- Chronic Urticaria: Chronic urticaria lasts for more than six weeks and can persist for months or even years. The exact cause of chronic urticaria is often unknown, but it may be related to autoimmune reactions, thyroid disorders, or other underlying health conditions.
- Physical Urticaria: This type of urticaria is triggered by physical stimuli such as pressure, cold, heat, sunlight, exercise, or vibration. Examples include dermatographism (hives that appear after scratching the skin), cold urticaria (hives triggered by exposure to cold temperatures), and cholinergic urticaria (hives induced by sweating or an increase in body temperature).
- Dermatographic Urticaria: Also known as dermatographism, this condition is characterized by hives that appear after firmly stroking or scratching the skin. The hives typically develop within a few minutes at the site of the skin stimulation.
- Aquagenic Urticaria: This rare form of urticaria is triggered by contact with water, regardless of its temperature. Hives usually develop within a few minutes after exposure to water, and symptoms can range from mild itching to severe allergic reactions.
- Solar Urticaria: Solar urticaria is a type of physical urticaria triggered by exposure to sunlight or other types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It results in the rapid onset of hives and can be associated with symptoms such as itching, burning, and swelling.
What are the Causes Of Hives/Urticaria?
Urticaria, or hives, can be caused by various factors, including.
- Allergic Reactions: Allergies to certain substances can trigger urticaria. Common allergens include certain foods (such as nuts, shellfish, eggs, or dairy), medications (such as antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], or aspirin), insect stings or bites, latex, and certain environmental allergens like pollen or animal dander.
- Physical Triggers: Urticaria can be induced by physical factors such as pressure on the skin (dermatographism), exposure to cold (cold urticaria), heat (heat urticaria), sunlight (solar urticaria), exercise (exercise-induced urticaria), or vibration (vibratory urticaria). These triggers can cause the release of histamine and other chemicals, leading to the development of hives.
- Infections: Certain infections can cause urticaria or trigger its onset. These may include viral infections like the common cold, influenza, hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis, and bacterial infections.
- Autoimmune Diseases: Some autoimmune conditions, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid disorders, can be associated with chronic urticaria. In these cases, the immune system mistakenly targets the body’s tissues, including the skin, leading to the development of hives.
- Stress or Emotional Triggers: Emotional stress, anxiety, or heightened emotional states can sometimes trigger or worsen urticaria.
- Unknown causes: In some cases, the exact cause of urticaria remains unknown and is referred to as idiopathic urticaria. It is believed that these cases may involve an underlying immune system dysfunction or other mechanisms that lead to the release of histamine and the development of hives.
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Signs & Symptoms Of Urticaria
Urticaria, commonly known as hives, is a skin condition characterized by raised, itchy, and often red welts or bumps on the skin. The symptoms of urticaria can vary in appearance, duration, and severity. Here are the key symptoms associated with urticaria:
- Raised Welts Or Bumps: The primary symptom of urticaria is the presence of raised, swollen areas on the skin. These welts or bumps are usually round or oval-shaped and can vary in size from small dots to larger patches. They may appear pale or red, and their borders may be well-defined or irregular.
- Itching: Urticaria typically accompanies intense itching or a burning sensation in the affected areas. The itching can range from mild to severe and may significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
- Rapid Onset And Resolution: Urticaria often appears suddenly and may resolve within a few hours or persist for several days before fading away. The welts or bumps can change in size, shape, and location over time.
- Skin Redness: The affected areas of the skin may appear red or flushed, especially around the raised welts or bumps.
- Swelling: In some cases, urticaria may cause swelling, also known as angioedema, in deeper layers of the skin. Angioedema commonly affects the lips, eyelids, face, hands, feet, or genitalia and can sometimes cause pain or a tingling sensation.
- Triggers: Urticaria can be triggered by various factors, including allergic reactions to certain foods, medications, insect bites, pollen, or latex. Other triggers may include physical factors such as pressure, heat, cold, exercise, or sunlight. In some cases, urticaria may occur without an identifiable trigger, referred to as idiopathic urticaria.