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Urticaria

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.

Symptoms

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.


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Diagnosis

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.


Treatment

 

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 urticarial outbreaks.

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.

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