Urticaria is a type of skin rash, which is generally caused by an allergic reaction. Sometimes, the rash can subside within hours, while at other times, it can last for several days.
Urticaria is a type of skin rash, characterized by red, raised areas or bumps on the skin. This condition is also known by the name of hives, and it can be associated with both allergic and non-allergic conditions. Urticaria can be acute or chronic. The acute form usually subsides within six weeks, while the chronic form can last for more than six weeks. Hives can appear in any part of the body as a single raised bump, or in clusters.
Causes and Symptoms
This condition is usually caused by an allergic reaction. So, hives usually develop due to the release of histamine by the mast cells, which in turn, causes the leakage of fluid from the superficial blood vessels. This results in the characteristic swelling or the appearance of raised bumps. The development of hives can be caused by allergies to certain food, medications, as well as insect bites. However, the causes of the non-allergic form of the condition are not known with certainty.
A small number of individuals have been found to develop this condition due to some underlying autoimmune disorders. Urticaria pigmentosa on the other hand, is caused by the presence of excessive mast cells on the skin. When the skin is irritated, the mast cells release histamine, and thus produce hives or localized skin rashes.
In addition to these, some other possible causes are, viral diseases including common cold, an infection of the gut caused by the H. pylori bacteria, dietary histamine poisoning, stress, and an exposure to intense sunlight, cold, and heat.
Apart from the characteristic hives or lesions, this condition can produce a few other symptoms like itching, a burning sensation, and redness. Hives can change their size and broaden in shape, before disappearing.
Treatment and Management
There are several types of urticaria, and some of them are idiopathic in nature. It is important to identify and avoid the specific triggering factors for the proper management of this condition. However, there are some medications that can control the signs and symptoms produced by this condition.
The most commonly used medications are the antihistamine drugs that can alleviate the symptoms of both acute and chronic urticaria. H1 receptor antagonists and H2 receptor antagonists are the antihistamines that are commonly employed for this purpose. Some common H1 and H2 receptor antagonists are, diphenhydramine, cetirizine, hydroxyzine, cimetidine, and ranitidine.
Drowsiness is the most common side effect that one can experience after taking antihistamines. But some antihistamines have been developed in the recent times that do not cause drowsiness. In addition to antihistamines, steroid tablets are sometimes used for a severe outbreak. But considering the side effects of steroids, they are usually not opted for the long-term treatment of urticaria. Immunosuppressant medications can also be required occasionally, if the condition is quite severe.
Some simple home remedies, such as a tepid or cold bath can help relieve the itching and the burning sensation produced by this condition. Even topical creams and lotions with menthol, and camphor can help soothe the affected area. Other topical creams that can be used for treating this condition are, steroid creams and creams that contain diphenhydramine and pramoxine.
The best treatment for this condition is to recognize and avoid the triggering factors as far as possible. At the same time, it is equally important to identify the exact type of urticaria for its long-term management. As far as the medications are concerned, be sure to talk to your physician before taking them.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.