Urticaria known to different people as hives, weals, welts or nettle rash, is a raised, itchy rash that appears on the skin.
It may appear on one part of the body and/or eventually spread across the body.
The rash is usually very itchy and appears in different sizes, from a few millimetres to the size of a hand.
Usually, the rash settles within a few days. In some occasions, the affected area may change in appearance within 24 hours.
If the rash clears completely within 6 weeks, it is referred to as acute urticaria. However, if the rash persists or comes and goes for more than 6 weeks, often over many years, it is referred to as chronic urticaria. This rarely occurs.
A much rarer type of urticaria, known as urticaria vasculitis,
There is a much rarer type of urticaria that can cause blood vessels inside the skin to become inflamed. Patients with this case experience pain as well as itching. The weals last longer than 24 hours and can leave a bruise.
Who’s affected by urticaria?
Hives, also known as urticaria, affects about 20 percent of people at some time during their lives. Acute urticaria (also known as short-term urticaria) is a common condition, estimated to affect around 1in 5 people at some point in their lives.
Children are often affected by the condition, as well as women aged 30 to 60, and people with a history of allergies.
What causes urticaria?
Urticaria occurs when a trigger brings about high level of histamine and other chemical messengers, which are in turn released in the skin. These substances cause the blood vessels in the affected area of skin to open up (often resulting in redness) and become leaky. This extra fluid in the tissues causes swelling and itchiness.
Generally some of triggers include:
* Some food (especially peanuts, eggs, nuts and shellfish)
* Medications, such as antibiotics (especially penicillin and sulfa), aspirin and NSAIDs generally like ibuprofen.
* Insect stings or bites
* Physical stimuli, such as pressure, cold, heat, exercise or sun exposure
* Blood transfusions
* Bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections and strep throat
* Viral infections, including the common cold, infectious mononucleosis and hepatitis
* Pet dander
* Some plants
When to seek medical advice
* Raised itchy bumps, either red or skin-colored
* “Blanching” (when pressed, the center of a red hive turns white)
Also visit the hospital when the case becomes
* causing distress
* disrupting daily activities
* occurring alongside other symptoms
* if your symptoms don’t go away within 48 hours.
Hives Management and Treatment
* Avoid known triggers
* See an allergist, who is specially trained to look for triggers to your hives and may recommend medications to prevent the hives or reduce the severity of symptoms. Whether your allergist suggests a treatment available only by prescription or an over the counter treatment will depend on several factors, including how uncomfortable the hives are making you.