Urticaria overview

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Classification

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Differentiating Urticaria from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

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Diagnosis

History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Urticaria is a skin condition, commonly caused by an allergic reaction, that is characterized by raised red skin welts. It is also known as nettle rash or uredo. Welts from hives can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat, and ears. Welts may vary in size from about 5 mm (0.2 inches) in diameter to the size of a dinner plate; they typically itch severely, sting, or burn, and often have a pale border. Urticaria is generally caused by direct contact with an allergenic substance, or an immune response to food or some other allergen, but can also appear for other reasons, notably emotional stress. The rash can be triggered by quite innocent events, such as mere rubbing or exposure to cold.

Historical Perspective

Classification

Pathophysiology

Causes

Differentiating Urticaria from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis

Diagnosis

History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

All types are characterized by raised red skin welts appearing anywhere on the body. They are itchy and about 5 mm in diameter.

Laboratory Findings

Other Diagnostic Findings

Treatment

Medical Therapy

Urticarias can be very difficult to treat. There are no guaranteed treatments or means of controlling attacks, and some sub-populations are treatment resistant, with medications spontaneously losing their effectiveness and requiring new medications to control attacks. It can be difficult to determine appropriate medications since some such as loratadine require a day or two to build up to effective levels, and since the condition is intermittent and outbreaks typically clear up without any treatment.

Most treatment plans for urticaria involve being aware of one's triggers, but this can be difficult since there are several different forms of urticaria and people often exhibit more than one type. Also, since symptoms are often idiopathic there might not be any clear trigger. If one's triggers can be identified then outbreaks can often be managed by limiting one's exposure to these situations.

Primary Prevention

Future or Investigational Therapies

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