Urticaria or hives appear on the skin as wheals that are red, very itchy, smoothly elevated areas of skin often with a blanched center. They appear in varying shapes and sizes, from a few millimeters to several inches in diameter anywhere on the body.
It is estimated that 20% of all people will develop urticaria at some point in their lives. Hives are more common in women than in men. One hallmark of hives is their tendency to change size rapidly and to move around, disappearing in one place and reappearing in other places, often in a matter of hours. Individual hives usually last no longer than 24 hours.
Hives form when, in response to histamine, blood plasma leaks out of small blood vessels in the skin. Histamine is a chemical released from specialized cells along the skin's blood vessels.
Allergic reactions, chemicals in foods, insect stings, sunlight exposure, or medicines can all cause histamine release. Sometimes it's impossible to find out exactly why hives have formed.
- Acute urticaria Hives or swelling lasting less than six weeks. The most common causes are foods, medicines, latex, or infections. Insect bites and internal disease may also be responsible. The most common foods that cause hives are nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, fresh berries, soy, wheat, and milk. Fresh foods cause hives more often than cooked foods. Certain food additives and preservatives may also be to blame. Medicines that can cause hives include aspirin and other non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen), high blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors), or painkillers such as codeine.
- Chronic urticaria and/or angioedema: Hives or swelling lasting more than six weeks. The cause of this type of hives is usually more difficult to identify than those causing acute urticaria. The causes can be similar to those of acute urticaria but can also include autoimmunity, chronic infections, hormonal disorders, and malignancy.
- Physical urticaria: Hives caused by direct physical stimulation of the skin - for example, cold, heat, sun exposure, vibration, pressure, sweating, and exercise. The hives usually occur right where the skin was stimulated and rarely appear anywhere else. Most of the hives appear within one hour after exposure
- Dermatographism: Hives that form after firmly stroking or scratching the skin. These hives can also occur along with other forms of urticaria.
- Hereditary angioedema: This is painful swelling of tissue. It is passed on through families.
The urticaria eruptions may be irregularly shaped or round or may be like vertical lines. They may appear single or multiple, occasional or many appearing at once or a appearing and disappearing in random order.
The most annoying concern for the sufferer is intense itching which, when uncontrolled makes the patient restless and impatient. At times, the eruptions and itching may lead to disturbance at work and sleeplessness.
Angioneurotic edema (ANO, also called as Giant Urticaria) is a variant of urticaria, which simply means large (massive or giant) urticaria with severe swelling (edema) of the skin at a deeper cellular level. When this involves respiratory organs such as larynx, it may lead to suffocation and to a medical emergency. The lips may get terribly swollen with ANO.
Dermatographism is an uncommon (4%) and an important urticaria variant, whereby if skin is rubbed forcibly as in in writing, the written letters could raise showing the urticaria rash, as demonstrated in a patient treated at Life force. The homeopathic treatment for Urticaria is promising. It is much advanced and more scientific as it is not aimed at relieving the symptoms but treat the disease at immunological level. The treatment plans thus designed is addressed towards correcting the immune system, in turn treating Urticaria from within. Besides medicines are completely safe & without any side effects.
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