Urticaria, also known as hives or nettle rash,
is a common skin disorder associated with marked itching. Up to 25% of the
population will experience an acute urticarial outbreak at least once. If the
symptoms persist for longer than 6 weeks, they are considered chronic.
Clinically, urticaria manifests as sudden onset, very
itchy wheals surrounded by a red border. Individual skin changes are usually
transient and persist less than 24 hours. If the swellings are located deeper
in the dermis or in the adjacent adipose tissue, one speaks of angioedema (also
known as Quincke’s edema). Such deep, marked swellings are more often painful
than pruritic. They tend to persist longer than urticarial skin changes, at
times for several days.
We identify trigger(s) in an extensive interview with the patient and by means of blood and skin tests.
- Acute urticaria: The most common trigger is allergy to food, medication, or insect bite. Once the cause is
known, it is essential to avoid contact.
- Chronic urticaria: This is usually not allergically induced. Here we identify factors, which may contribute to
the disease syndrome such as pressure, cold, or physical exertion, but also medications, infections, or the
presence of specific immunologic agents.
We work with you to determine an individual plan
of treatment. We will be glad to provide advice on how to avoid precipating
factors and which foods or medicines are inappropriate, since they may trigger
There are a great variety of oral medications available as are topical creams
and salves for external use (as well as shower and bath products), which will
especially alleviate pruritus.