Urticaria or hives is an allergic reaction that is characterized by the appearance of a series of large, irritant and red skin lesions, which can occur in isolation or in groups anywhere in the body.
Hives always entails the existence of a series of red bumps like nettle stings and with similar effects. Hence the name "urticaria", a word derived from "urticaria" which in Latin means "nettle". In fact, hives produces a feeling like as if we were being stung by nettles.
It is the source of what is known as "wheals" which are skin swellings or inflammations on the skin surface.
Differences between urticaria and angioedema
Angioedema is a disease very similar to urticaria, that is also often caused by an allergic reaction. It differs from hives because the wheals occur under the skin, in contrast to those that urticaria originates that appear on its surface.
The swellings caused by angioedema often occur in the area adjacent to the eyes and mouth, although they are quite likely to occur on the hands, feet and throat.
Like hives, it causes swelling and itching. In addition, it tends to affect the eye and mouth areas, causing swelling in them. Internally, it can affect the respiratory tract and the digestive system, causing wheezing and in severe cases, obstruction of the airways. When it affects the gastrointestinal tract, it can cause severe pain in the stomach or belly.
Symptoms of urticaria
The main symptoms of urticaria are:
- Appearance of the bumps.
- Strong itching that usually disappear fairly quickly without trace.
- Formation of wheals.
- Wheals that extend to form a flat and extended inflammation on the skin.
- Wheals that turn white when they are pressed.
- Wheals that disappear within a day or less and may appear later elsewhere in the body.
Causes of urticaria
- Allergic causes of urticaria:
Urticaria occurs primarily as a result of an allergic reaction. The process takes place when the body releases an excess of histamine and other chemicals in the presence of an allergic substance (allergen). The allergen may contact the skin externally. It can also affect internally through the ingestion of certain foods or inhalation of certain products.
The increase of histamine and other chemicals produce an increase of fluid in the affected area that is the cause of the swelling. The itching and sensibility is a result to the response to histamine and other chemicals of the nerve endings in the affected area.
Allergic reactions that trigger hives may be due to:
- Allergy to certain foods (strawberries, preserves, milk, chocolate, etc.). (More about "Diet for hives" in the listing above)
- Allergy to certain plants (nettles, ivy, etc)
- Allergy to certain animals (cats, dogs, pets, etc.)
- Contact allergy to certain chemicals or drugs. (Detergents, opium, etc.)
In addition to allergic causes , urticaria is sometimes caused by other reasons. Among them we could mention the following:
- Stress: A state of nervousness or anxiety can trigger itching, generalized throughout the body.
- Excessive sweating: After a very violent exercise or in very hot, one's body sweat can trigger this reaction.
- Extreme environmental conditions: The contact of skin with excessively cold, too hot or continual exposure to sun can cause the appearance of hives.
- Diseases (Lupus, leukemia, etc)
- Certain infectious. (Typhus, mononucleosis, etc.)
- Too tight clothes.
Diagnosis and treatment of urticaria
The medical diagnosis of urticaria is done by an inspection of the skin condition. Your doctor may order allergy tests to diagnose the possible causes that may cause allergy. Many times the real causes that produce it can not be found.
In general, urticaria is not serious problem and generally disappears within a few days. Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines to relieve itching. Leaving aside the reasons that cause hives, this is not usually recurrent.
When urticaria lasts for more than 6 weeks is called chronic urticaria. It is not exactly known what causes it, but most studies seem to agree that allergic causes or stress are mainly responsible.
In the case of angioedema and, when there are breathing difficulties, swelling of the face, throat or tongue, urgent medical attention is needed.
An urticaria outbreak has to be distinguished from an anaphylactic attack, which is potentially fatal. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that affects the whole body, showing most acute symptoms than urticaria. Red bumps and itching can also appear, but they go together with other possible symptoms including coughing, difficult breathing, confusion, abdominal pain, nausea, fainting, irregular heartbeat, difficulty in speech. etc.) . It usually responds to an allergic reaction against the ingestion of certain medications, foods or after being bitten by animals.
The natural treatment of urticaria involves using a series of natural remedies that can help prevent or improve
More information about urticaria and its natural treatment in the listing above.