Urticaria which is also known as hives is a skin rash that is often described as red, itchy and raised. It may be as small as a papule or a big wheal several millimeters in size. It is most commonly caused by allergic reactions, but there are certain cases that are due to non allergic causes.
There are two major type ; the first type is that one that last for less than 6 weeks and more often attributed to allergic causes. Most common example of triggering factor is food. The second and the more severe type is the chronic type. This type of urticaria can last more than 6 weeks and can be refractory to most common treatment. This is less likely to be caused by an allergic reaction.
It can be very difficult to manage, particularly chronic form. There is no guaranteed treatment or ways of controlling attacks. There are even an enormous number of patients with chronic form who are treatment resistant. Some common medications are suddenly losing their effectiveness and the patients become immune to the medication itself.
The most assured treatment is to avoid its triggering factors but this can only be exercised when the person knows exactly what it is, and this is not usually the case. Symptoms are often idiopathic or unknown.
The following are the most common treatment of hives:
- Histamine antagonist - drug therapy is usually in the form of anti-histamines such as hydroxizine. Citirizine and for acute attacks, diphenhydramine.
- Stress Management - while the disease is physiologic in origin, psychological management can also lessen the severity and the frequency of the attack. In addition, certain psychological means can also be done to shift focus away from the itch and discomfort during an attack
- Tricyclic anti-depressant - doxepin is also often potent H1 and H2 antagonist and may play a role in the therapy of patients with urticaria/hives.
- Steroids - can be given to patients with recurrent and refractory attacks of urticaria. This should be administered by doctors and must be prescribed.
- Diet - one who is suffering from urticaria should shy away from food that have a lot of preservatives like canned goods and certain food that is known to cause allergies. This allergenic food includes eggs, chicken, nuts, crustaceans and even chocolates.
- Homeopathic Remedies - make sure that you choose all natural ingredients that are guaranteed to be safe. Research on the ingredients first and find out its benefits as well as its side effects.
- Practical remedies at home - application of cold compress and calamine lotion significantly relieve the itch. It also helps in resolution of the swelling. One should limit exposure to too much heat and cold since extremes of temperature is also known to cause urticaria. One should avoid frequent skin contact on the affected area because too much direct stimulation will worsen the itch and the inflammation.
- Avoid stress and live a healthy life both physically and emotionally.
Urticaria does not need to be an all-consuming problem. There are a variety of ways to prevent and treat it. Consultation with a specialist such as a dermatologist or an allergologist is always advisable
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