Urticaria / Skin allergy

What is urticaria?
Urticaria (hives) is a common skin condition which looks like mosquito bites. It is very itchy and can be very recurrent, sometimes occuring on a daily basis. It is due to a release of histamine in the skin from certain, often unknown triggers.

What causes urticaria?
Urticaria may be acute, following a viral infection or from an allergic reaction to foods or drugs. This acute form usually lasts about a few days to a week. If allergy is suspected, allergy tests such as blood tests and skin prick tests may be performed. Urticaria may be chronic, lasting more than two months.  In this chronic form, the cause is mostly unknown. Food allergy is rarely the cause. Possible triggers are heat, cold, sweating, baths, pressure and sunlight. Sometimes, there may be underlying infection or a medical condition like thyroid disease. Your dermatologist may do investigations to exclude any underlying condition.

What is the treatment of urticaria?
The management of urticaria is to identify and avoid any triggering factors, treat any underlying condition and suppression with anti-histamines. Anti-histamines suppress the release of histamine and help to control the appearance of rashes. There are many types and the dermatologist will usually prescribe a combination for you. The urticaria will usually resolve by itself in a matter of time.