What is Urticaria?
Urticaria is a common type of skin allergy that causes itchy welts in your body. The size of itchy patches may range from small to large and such type of itchy welts can be caused due to allergic foods, medications and exposure to allergic substances.
Hives or urticaria can produce itchy welts that are red or pink in color. These spots are highly itchy and the shape can be either fully round or oval. The size of itchy welts varies in diameter from few millimeters to few centimeters. Angioedema is a type of hives that develops around your cheeks, lips or even eyes.
The major cause for urticaria is food allergens. Sometimes foods like shellfish, milk, peanuts and fish can cause allergy triggering urticaria. Taking certain medications like aspirin or penicillin or Aleve can trigger allergic reactions leading to hives or urticaria. Exposure to allergens like pollen or animal dander and insect stings can cause hives.
For some people erratic climate like extreme cold or heat and salty water can trigger this reaction. Heightened stress or emotions can cause urticaria or itchy welts. Certain types of health conditions like weakened immunity, having lymphoma cancer and thyroid problems can induce urticaria. Hepatitis infection or HIV can also trigger formation of itchy welts on your body. For some people urticaria is inherited and passed on to children from parents.
Who are at Risk?
Urticaria can occur on anyone. But having any type of skin disorders or allergic reactions makes one prone to hives. Having immunity disorder like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of developing urticaria. If you have a family history of hives you have increased chance of getting hives. In rare cases hives can become severe causing obstruction in your airway blocking your nasal passage.
Your doctor can diagnose urticaria by physical examination of your body. He would collect complete medication information to identify the source of allergy. He may do skin biopsy and blood test to find the cause of allergy.
Mild forms of urticaria do not need any treatment. It will resolve automatically within a week. Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines to control itching and swelling. In severe cases he may prescribe topical creams that contain corticosteroids that can be applied on the affected area of the skin.
In case if the root cause of the problem is autoimmune disorder your doctor may give suitable drugs to suppress immune system. For people with hereditary cause, your doctor may give blood protein controlling medications. In serious cases, emergency treatment is given by injecting prescribed doses of epinephrine.
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Home Remedies :
You can always avoid exposure to allergens like pollen or animal dander. Avoid foods that can cause allergy. For mild forms of hives you can use over the counter antihistamines like cetrizine or Benadryl. This is effective in managing itching. Keep the infected part of your skin covered with dressings so that you may not scratch it to make conditions worse. You can take oatmeal bath to get relief from symptoms.
You can prevent getting urticaria or hives by identifying the triggering agents like foods, pollen and other allergens and avoid getting exposed.