Urticaria also known as chronic hives are nothing but raised lesions that are red or white in color resembling wheals of small and medium sizes. These hives develop suddenly and disappear within few days to appear again. Often, these itchy welts survive for 5-6 weeks which will fade subsequently. Urticaria is caused for reason unknown and is considered to be of autoimmune disorder. The symptoms can be totally managed by effective antihistamines. In rare cases, these hives develop on the throat region which can block the windpipe causing choking and difficulty in breathing.
Causes Of Urticaria :
Urticaria is believed to be caused by weakened immunity. Certain mast cells of the body would release large quantities of histamine into the blood causing severe itching and hives. Autoimmune disorder can originate from other diseases like lupus or thyroid deficiency. The blood plasma would start leaking out of blood vessels finding its way into the skin causing chronic hives. Certain types of allergic reactions caused by food, over-exposure to sunlight, insect bites and prolonged use of certain medication can also cause this effect. Exact cause of urticaria is unknown.
Urticaria Symptoms :
You can identify urticaria or chronic hives which appear as wheals or itchy belts on the skin. It would be seen as small patches of rings causing severe itching. They are raised red colored lesions appearing on the hands and legs and sometimes on your face also.
Often urticaria is associated with angioedema. The skin develops inflammation on the hands, feet and on the genitals and in rare cases on your throat. Swelling of throat can cause difficulty in eating and swallowing and can obstruct the airway. In most of the cases the symptoms come and go which may recur again within few days. Excess of heat or stressful events can trigger the formation of hives. In rare cases angioedema or urticaria can cause difficulty in breathing if the throat portion develops inflammation inside.
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Your doctor will look for the above symptoms after careful examination of the affected skin. To find out the root cause he may request for blood profile for detecting plasma proteins in the blood, allergy tests to rule out any allergic reactions and any other tests to rule out hepatitis or lupus.
It is difficult to treat urticaria and is possible to control only the symptoms. Exact cause that triggers formation of hives is to be identified and treated. Underlying health causes are to be analyzed before giving any treatment. Mild itching can be resolved by over the counter antihistamines. Most of the people can get relief by taking oral histamines of second/first generation. For some people combination of these drugs is to be given.
Newer antihistamines do not cause sedation but are effective. Some of the important second generation antihistamines are cetrizine, levocetrizine, loratadine and fexofenadine. First generation antihistamines like vistaril, Benadryl and chloropheniramine can make you drowsy. You may not be able to drive after taking these medications. Medications like cimetidine (H-2 antagonist) are also given along with antihistamines. Prednisone is an effective corticosteroid for managing urticaria. For some people tricyclic antidepressants like zonalon is prescribed for severe hives.
Home Remedies :
For mild form of hives you can apply cool compress on the skin and repeat the process several times a day. Soaking in oatmeal bath is also effective. Stay in cool atmosphere and wear loose fitting clothes.
Pictures of Urticaria :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Urticaria
You cannot totally prevent urticaria but can identify the agents that are triggering them and avoid it. In case you are allergic to certain food items you can always avoid it. In case you have developed hives make a note in the diary about the period of hives and about your diet so that your doctor can figure out what exactly caused it. Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen for long term unless it is given by your doctor.