What Is Urticaria?
Urticaria, commonly called Hives or Welts, is a skin reaction marked by the development of itchy, raised white lumps/bumps surrounded by an area of red inflammation.
It’s the swelling, which varies in shape and size, on the surface of the skin that happens when your body has an allergic reaction to food, medication, bites, or physical stimuli.
Urticaria is of three major types.
- Acute Urticaria: They are hives that last six weeks or less. They are majorly caused by an allergic reaction to food, drugs, infection, and bites
- Chronic urticaria: This type is a long-term condition that can affect organs like lungs, and muscles. It lasts for more than six weeks. The cause of this is, however, unknown.
- Physical urticaria: These are the hives that pop up within an hour of exposure to physical stimuli. Stimuli like cold, heat, sweating, vibration, pressure, and sun.
What Causes Urticaria?
This condition is mostly caused by:
- An allergen: Any substance taken into the body that causes an allergic reaction. They may include food, drugs like antibiotics, insect bites
- Infections from bacteria or viruses
- Physical triggers like cold, and heat.
- Underlying health conditions like lupus, flu, hepatitis B, and type 1 diabetes.
What are the symptoms of urticaria?
Hives symptoms include:
- Reddish or skin-coloured raised welts or bumps on your skin.
- The center of the hive becomes pale when pressed.
- Itchy skin.
- Swelling under your skin, causing puffiness
- Painful swelling of your lips, eyes, and inside your throat.
- Welts that form in minutes to hours.
- Mild pain and warmth in the affected areas.
How is urticaria treated?
The best treatment for hives is to discover and avoid the triggers.
An allergist can be consulted to determine the triggers.
Antihistamines, the medicine used to relieve/ treat symptoms of allergy, can also be taken to prevent hives from forming.
For chronic hives, an injection of epinephrine is given. Epinephrine is a medication is used in emergencies to treat very serious allergic reactions and help reduce swelling of the lips, face, and throat.