What is Urticaria?
Urticaria, also known as hives or welts, is a skin reaction resulting in reddish marks on your skin. Urticaria can be:
- Acute (go away within 6 weeks)
- Chronic (lasting beyond 6 weeks)
What is Angioedema?
Angioedema is urticaria related swelling below the surface of your skin and fatty tissue. The condition affects the deeper layers of your skin.
The size of the area affected by urticaria & angioedema can range from small spots to large blotches. Though urticaria can occur with or without angioedema and vice versa, they are mostly interlinked and may occur together.
Symptoms of Urticaria & Angioedema
Urticaria & angioedema can occur on any part of your body including the face, lips, chest, throat (can be life-threatening), hands, feet, abdomen, back, etc.
Symptoms of Urticaria
- Raised and reddish areas on your skin
- Intensive itching in the affected area
Symptoms of Angioedema
- Large, thick and firm swelling in the affected area
- Redness, warmth and pain in the swollen area
Urticaria & angioedema can be caused by:
- Food allergies
- Medicine allergies
- Allergens such as pollen, latex, insect stings, and animal dander
- Environmental factors like extreme heat or cold, sunlight, emotional stress or exercise and even water
- Underlying medical conditions such as cancer, hepatitis, HIV, etc.
- Heredity (in rare cases)
Urticaria & angioedema may occur in anybody and at any age even without warning. However, you are at higher risk if you:
- Had experienced the condition before
- Had suffered from allergic reactions
- Have a disorder associated with the condition (like lupus, lymphoma or thyroid disease)
- Have a genetic history of urticaria & angioedema
Your doctor will diagnose the condition by:
- Examining the welts or swelling in the affected areas
- Studying your medical history to identify possible causes
If needed, the doctor may recommend a skin test for allergies and even a blood test for hereditary perspective.
Treatment of Urticaria & Angioedema
In most cases, urticaria & angioedema clear up on their own. If your symptoms are mild, you may treat them at home and get relief for the symptoms.
Some of the tips for home treatment include:
- Avoid allergic foods, medications, pollen, pet dander, latex, and insect stings
- Cover the area with moist bandages or dressings
- Wear smooth and loose cotton clothing
- Buy some over-the-counter anti-itch medicines
In case your symptoms are severe causing serious discomfort, then you must see your doctor who will recommend antihistamine medication. They may order a combination of several antihistamines or a higher dose of one antihistamine, depending on the severity of the condition.
Below are some of the drugs your doctor may ask you to use:
- Anti-itch drugs
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Immune system suppressors
- Pain and swelling reducing drugs
- Blood protein controllers
If you have a very severe attack, then you may need an emergency injection of adrenaline.
Urticaria & angioedema is usually harmless and will not leave any lasting marks, even if left untreated.
Recovery from Urticaria & Angioedema
Most of your urticaria & angioedema symptoms will fade away within 24 hours and your skin returns to normal with no marks. In a few cases, the symptoms may last for a few months if the condition is chronic.
Urticaria & angioedema can be prevented by avoiding the known triggers of the condition. These include medications, foods, and other environmental factors.