Urticaria is the medical term used to denote hives, which are characterized by dark red, itchy bumps. Such raised bumps with red borders can develop anywhere on the skin, and are commonly referred to as 'wheals'. Usually, hives develop as allergic reactions. The condition may also be linked to other causative factors. In some cases, hives last for more than six weeks, and this condition is termed chronic urticaria, which is usually, not caused by allergies.
Studies suggest that, most of the people with chronic urticaria has an idiopathic (unknown) cause. In such cases, treatment becomes difficult as the cause is unknown, and the skin of the patient gets scarred due to the continuous scratching. In most cases of chronic idiopathic urticaria, the patients develop secondary depression and angioedema. In children, the condition is usually found to be chronic.
Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria
It can be defined as a condition, which is characterized by hives and constant itching that develop without any obvious cause, and last for at least six months or more. As the condition is not studied properly, it becomes difficult for doctors to prescribe an effective treatment method. However, recent studies show that at least 30 to 50% of the chronic idiopathic urticaria patients suffer from the condition, due to autoimmune disorders. The remaining 50% can be truly idiopathic, as no other cause has been identified for their condition. Even though, it has been proved that autoimmune disorders can cause chronic idiopathic urticaria, there is no specific method for diagnosing such conditions. In some cases, immunotherapy has been found to be beneficial.
As there is no definite cause for this condition, prescribing an effective treatment is also difficult. The treatment involves managing the symptoms, i.e, the hives. An effective urticaria treatment option is antihistamines. However, relevant antihistamines must be used for a longer period, that too in proper doses. A drug, which was earlier used for treating malaria, is said to be beneficial for those affected with autoimmune idiopathic urticaria. Recent trials show a success rate of 80%, when used for a period of three to four months.
In short, chronic idiopathic urticaria is a serious form of urticaria, with hives that last for over six months, along with itching. It has been suggested that, almost 40% of such cases are caused by autoimmune disorders, the remaining ones do not have any specific cause. Studies regarding the condition and its treatment, are still underway. As of now, the treatment is aimed at alleviating the symptoms. However, self medication should be strictly avoided.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.