Urticaria is the medical term to describe what most people refer to as hives. Many people will develop a temporary case of urticaria at some point in their lives in response to exposure to an allergen; however, acute cases of the condition either rapidly go away on their own or in response to antihistamines. Some people develop chronic urticaria, where they develop hives without exposure to any known allergen, and the outbreaks of hives persist for weeks to months. This condition can be unpleasant to experience, cause distress and chronic itching, and reduce quality of life. Around 50% of chronic urticaria sufferers find some relief from antihistamines.
This condition usually has an onset between the ages of 20 and 40 and is estimated to affect around 1% of the population. Typical symptoms start with an outbreak of hives with no known trigger, followed by daily outbreaks of new hives for weeks. In some cases, the hives can cover practically the entire body. Hives are red, unsightly, and often very itchy. Most patients attempt to self-treat the condition with antihistamines but only around 50% find any relief from them. It is unclear what causes the condition; allergy testing usually does not identify any allergen, and attempts to change lifestyles in order to avoid possible triggers rarely work, although some people find that avoiding tight clothing, alcohol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen), and extremes of temperature can prevent flare-ups. In some cases, the condition spontaneously resolves after one to five years, but other cases never resolve and continue throughout the patient’s life.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a prolonged outbreak of urticaria that won’t respond to antihistamine treatment, the professionals at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic in Washington, Oregon, and California may have a treatment that will work for you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!