Do you ever get bumps that itch like bug bites but aren’t really bug bites? Well, that may be a case of Urticaria.
Urticaria, also known as hives, are swollen red or skin-coloured bumps on your skin that may appear and disappear quickly, and the itching can range anywhere from mild to severe. In some cases, they can also burn or sting and what’s more? They can appear anywhere on the body, including hands, face, lips, ears, throat or tongue. Hives affect around 20% of people at some point in their lives.
Urticaria, that also goes by different names such as welts, wheals or nettle rash are not contagious. However, they can sometimes last for days, months or even years!
There are many different types of Urticaria. They can either be acute or chronic.
Urticaria is caused when the body reacts to a certain allergen and in reaction releases histamines and other chemicals. These chemicals and histamines cause inflammation and lead to accumulation of fluid under the skin, causing hives.
Some of these things are known to trigger an allergic reaction causing hives:
The biggest difference between angioedema and hives is that angioedema is the swelling of tissues beneath the surface of the skin whereas hives are bumps on the surface of the skin and can be caused by allergic reactions, medications, etc.
You know its angioedema when you notice the following symptoms -
Urticaria is diagnosed depending on its type.
A single episode of hives does not usually call for extensive testing. If a food allergy is suspected, consider keeping track of what you eat. This will help you discover whether there is a link between what you’re eating and when you break out with hives.
Chronic hives should be evaluated by an allergist, who will ask about your and your family’s medical history, substances to which you are exposed at home and at work, exposure to pets or other animals and any medications you’ve taken recently. If you have been keeping a food diary, show it to your allergist.
Urticaria is usually treated by a dermatologist/allergist with a type of medicine called antihistamines.
Doctors and Global guidelines strongly suggest use of non sedating Antihistamines which are quite safe. It is, however, best to visit a dermatologist/ allergist to understand your condition and get treated accordingly.
If you notice hives on face or swelling in your tongue or lips or face difficulty in breathing, it can be an early symptom of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction that can cause problems in breathing and send your body into shock.
You must also contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms -
Identifying Urticaria causes might be difficult and sometimes next to impossible, especially when your hives are chronic. However, if you suspect a food allergy, you might consider keeping a food journal to identify which foods are causing it. Moreover, some things are known to trigger an Urticarial rash including foods like eggs, peanuts, shellfish, etc., insect bites, antibiotics, latex, some plants, pollen, dust mites, bacterial or viral infections, physical stimuli, etc.