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Urticaria (Hives) - Allergy Conditon of the skin - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Cure

Urticaria is also known as hives. It is a temporary swelling of the skin, caused by a localised collection of fluid in the dermis due to leakage from blood vessels. It can result from any of the following:

  1. Allergy to foods, pollens and drugs.
  2. Change in the temperature.
  3. Infections, including the presence of worms.
  4. Emotional upsets.

Urticaria (hives) is classified into two categories according to fact how long it has been present.

  • Acute urticaria is of recent onset (hours, days or a few weeks).
  • Chronic urticaria has persisted for several months or years.

Symptoms of Hives (Urticaria)

  • Urticaria (or hives) is an eruption of weals.
  • Weals are often accompanied by itching, pale or pink, edematous, raised lesions resembling those caused by the sting of a nettle.
  • They last for a short time of a few hours only, but reappear at the same or different sites.
  • On areas like lips, eyelid and groins, edematous swellings may erupt because of the looseness of subcutaneous tissue where a large amount of fluid can accumulate.
  • Urticaria is a reaction pattern of the skin which can be caused by a number of factors.

Causes of Hives (Urticaria)

Many if the times the cause from which hives has arrised cannot be accurately determined but if the cause can be made out, it is very easy to cure urticaria. If the cause is not obvious, then a very effective way to get relief fromurticaria is the use of anti­allergic drugs for some weeks (but only with the consultancy of your doctor.) till the problem subsides.

The common causes of urticaria or hives are as follows:

1. Allergic hives is the commonest allergy condition of the skin. Substances which cause allergic hives enter the body by inhalation or injections. Drugs like penicillin, sulphonamides, aspirin, tetracyclines and even B complex vitamins are among the commonest causes of hives. Aspirin can also cause hives by non-allergic means. Many foods like fish, pork, eggs, mushroom, milk, wheat, rice and pulses, etc., can also cause hives. Pollens, dust, horse dander, etc., can be inhaled and cause hives, though more frequently they are a cause of naso-respiratory allergy. Vaccines and anti-toxin injections can also cause hives. Some parasitic infections of the intestines and the stings of mosquitoes, wasps and bees can also cause widespread allergic urticaria. At times a focus of infection in the throat, sinuses, ears, teeth or kidney may be the cause of urticaria.

2. Physical factors like cold, heat, exertion, ultraviolet radiation and pressure can cause hives in sensitive individuals.

3. Psychological stress resulting from sex problems and problems regarding employment, family and finances have been known to cause hives in some persons.

In all cases of urticaria, while observing the history of hives, it has been observed especially with regard to drug intake, relationship of urticaria with ingestion of any particular food or any of the physical factors mentioned above. A psychological assessment of the patient is also made. A physical examination is important to exclude or confirm the presence of a focus of infection or some other underlying disease. Microscopic stool examination is done to detect any intestinal worm infestation. The prick and intradermal tests on the skin, used for identification of allergy in asthma, are generally unless in urticaria.

Treatment of Hives (Urticaria) - Some Tips and Cure

  • Suppressive treatment of urticaria is carried out by administering antihistaminic drugs like Chloropheneramine (Avil) triprolidine hydrochloride, Actidil and Cyproheptadine hydrochloride (Periactin). The dose and the frequency should be adjusted to give adequate coverage for 24 hours.
  • All these drugs cause varying degrees of drowsiness, hence driving, operating machines and other jobs which require mental alertness should be avoided while undergoing treatment.
  • Urticaria, if not responsive to oral antihistamines, may have to be treated with injections of adrenaline or steroids especially for patients 'complaining of a choking sensation in the throat which occurs due to swelling in the respiratory passage.

Hives (Urticaria) Prevention Tips

  • Patients with urticaria pigmentosa should avoid aspirin, codeine, opiates, procaine, alcohol. polymyxin B, hot baths, and vigorous rubbing after bathing and showering. These can release histamine which can cause itching, flushing and hives.
  • If they trigger the urticaria, don't consume food or confectionery containing tartrazine or meats preserved with benzoates.
  • Cool the affected area with a fan or an ice pack.
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Urticaria (Hives) Symptoms and Treatment