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What is urticaria?

Urticaria is a medical term for hives.  
The condition is characterised by the formation of a rash which appears across one or more areas of the body.  The rash is often itchy and takes the form of multiple raised bumps (wheals).  The rash can either appear red or match the natural colour of the skin.
Urticaria is a very common symptom – affecting 1 in 5 people at some point in their lives.
It is often associated with angioedema (swelling).
When does urticaria arise?
Urticaria can arise after contact with a substance which triggers an allergic reaction, for example food(s).  In this instance, the rash is a symptom of an underlying food allergy, and it is likely to settle down once you are no longer in contact with the offending allergen.    
Urticaria can also be induced by various factors (which differ from person-to-person) including, but not limited to:
  • Exercise
  • Water (aquagenic urticaria)
  • The sun (solar urticaria)
  • Cold temperatures
  • Hot temperatures
  • Skin pressure
And urticaria can also arise spontaneously – meaning there is no known cause. Up to 1% of the population is thought to be affected by spontaneous urticaria, and it is more commonly diagnosed in women.
Urticaria can be a chronic problem.  Chronic is defined as lasting for 6 weeks or more.  During this time, the urticaria may be consistently present or it could repeatedly flare up and settle down in a cyclical fashion.  This can last for months, or even years at a time. 
Urticaria may also be accompanied by swelling (angioedema), a fever, headache, diarrhoea, or difficulty breathing or swallowing.   
Potential triggers for flare ups of this condition can include: stress, intercurrent illness or NSAIDs (a class of drugs which include aspirin and ibuprofen).
With the right medication and advice, this difficult condition can usually be brought under control.
For particularly persistent or troublesome occurrences of spontaneous urticaria, omalizumab (Xolair) therapy may be an option.
For more information on this condition and how to treat it, please contact us to arrange a consultation.
Urticaria Rash Hives Swelling Face
Urticaria Rash Hives Swelling Body
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