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Urticaria – Hives Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

When a person suffers from itching in a particular place and gets itchy bumps or rashes that that is the signs of hives. Here are the Hives symptoms, causes and treatments.

Urticaria – Hives Symptoms:

The affected area of the skin becomes swollen, causing itchiness and pain. The symptoms of urticaria/hives are itching, red welts on the skin and itchy bumps on skin. Urticaria eczema is an erroneous terminology used for eczema, which is a form of dermatitis or inflammation of the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). Most of the time, people confuse eczema with urticaria; however, eczema is more likely to be found on the flexor aspect of joints (Learn more about eczema).

Urticaria swelling is one of the most common and obvious symptoms of urticaria. Urticaria swelling depends on the severity of the condition. If you are suffering from chronic urticaria then the swelling may be persistent; however, in most cases, the swelling does not last more than 8 to 12 hours. Patients should avoid the triggers that cause or aggravate the situation. In some types of urticaria, if the affected area is cooled down with a fan or ice, the swelling reduces. However, patients of cold induced urticaria or aguagenic urticaria should avoid these tactics.

Urticaria – Hives Causes:

The Major cause of the hives is the body’s reaction to an external irritant (or enters the body when it is consumed) which comes in contact with the skin.

In response to that irritant the skin releases different chemicals like histamine which causes inflammation and itching. Irritants includes different foods such as eggs, milk, nuts, fish and shellfish, berries, chocolate and tomatoes other irritants may include cosmetics, medications, insect stings, products, infections, chemicals, medical problems, and even exposure of cold and heat. Most the hives patient claim and get rashes due to eating foods like dairy products, berries chocolate, or may stung by insects or due to intake of medications. The other rare causes of urticaria are alcohol, tobacco and coffee. There are solar and aqua urticaria as well (caused by too much exposure to sun or water).

However the most common form of urticaria is through allergy. Mast cells play an important role in the allergic reaction that causes allergic urticaria. These cells are widespread in human skin. Histamine and other pro-inflammatory substances are released from these mast cells into the skin and tissues in response to the binding of allergen-bound IgE antibodies to high affinity cell surface receptors. Besides mast cells, basophils and certain other inflammatory cells are also believed to release histamines and other mediators and are thought to play an important role, especially in allergic urticarial diseases.

Hives – Utrticaria – Diagnosis and Treatment:

Even if you have all the symptoms that are mentioned above, clinical diagnosis with a close examination of the skin eruptions is important. After it is has been observed and experienced once, the patient can recognize urticaria. The precise urticaria diagnosis in terms of its causes and triggers is made after a careful, systematic case history is taken by the dermatologist. The patient needs to provide accurate information and may need to eliminate certain allergens, including food products once suspected. However, in the case of pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, the patient has to be extra careful and diagnosis should be made as soon as possible.

In most cases, because of the heterogeneity of urticaria and its different types, guidelines for diagnosis might start with a regular patient health checkup, which should comprise a thorough history, physical examination of the skin, and the ruling out of severe systemic disease utilizing various laboratory tests. Such laboratory tests should be performed based on the suspected cause. During the process of urticaria diagnoses, the most important objective is to obtain a comprehensive history, including all possible eliciting factors and significant aspects of the nature of the urticaria. The following factors are to be kept in mind when diagnosing urticaria:

  • Occurring frequency and duration of welts or wheals
  • Timing of onset of disease
  • Family history regarding urticaria
  • Size, shape, color and distribution of the welts
  • Any reaction to insect bites such as a wasp sting
  • Associated angioedema, if any
  • Other associated symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, itching, or pain
  • Any previous or current infections, allergies, or internal diseases
  • Any physical agent, such as exercise
  • Any drug that the patient takes regularly, including injections, immunizations, hormones, laxatives, suppositories, ear and eye drops, etc
  • Food and smoking habits
  • Hobbies and type of routine work
  • Rate of occurrence in relation to foreign travel
  • Surgical implantations
  • Emotional factors and stress

Hives-Urticaria Treatment:

Many people suffering from urticaria question how to treat urticaria. Many people think that it is impossible; however, it is possible to find relief. Though it can be difficult to get rid of urticaria, if you follow the steps mentioned in this article, you can find relief for your skin problems.

In some cases, one specific antihistamine may not have any effect on the patient. If this happens, you should try alternate antihistamines. However, to measure the effect of an antihistamine, you should use it for at least two weeks continuously. Sometimes, the rashes may vanish upon using antihistamines and reappear after some time. This happens because people stop using the medication when the symptoms disappear. To prevent the rash and itching from appearing again, you should use the antihistamine on a daily basis. Older antihistamines may cause drowsiness and should only be taken just before going to bed. However, modern antihistamines do not have this effect and can be used anytime.

For curing cholinergic urticaria, antihistamines that have cetirizine as a major component are very helpful. Ketotifen is effective for patients suffering from both cholinergic urticaria and cold urticaria. Danazol elevates antichymotrypsin levels; therefore, patients can benefit from using it. Ultraviolet light has also been effective for some patients with cholinergic urticaria.

Second generation antihistamines are considered to be the best choice for idiopathic urticaria treatment. These antihistamines include desloratadine, fexofenadine, levocetirizine, and loratadine.

If the patient drinks nettle tea, it may relieve his throat. This tea can be made by stirring 2 teaspoons of powdered nettles into a cup of hot water and adding honey. Fresh lemon juice can be used if honey is not available. Patients can also apply calamine lotion on the affected area for soothing relief. Aloe vera gel and vitamin E oil have also been used to counter the effects of urticaria. Another way to relieve the itch is by bathing or dipping the affected area in warm water containing 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup baking soda.

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About the author


Ajithkumar, an Engineer and a management professional is the founder of AlternativeMedicineWiz.com. He’s practiced Yoga and Pranayama for more than a decade, after learning it from his renowned guru Gireeshan. He has a keen interest in Ayurveda and Siddha medicine.

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