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It is also known as hives or in layman terms as allergy. They appear as reddish raised lesions of varying shapes and sizes. They are itchy and usually resolve spontaneously in few minutes to hours. They can occur on any part of the body.


There are many factors implicated in urticaria but when chronic, it is most commonly idiopathic i.e. cause is unknown.

 The following are causes of urticaria:

Acute urticaria



Upper respiratory tract infection

Allergy (immediate hypersensitivity)



Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-infl ammatory

Food additives

Radiocontrast media


Chronic urticaria


Idiopathic (cause not known)


Food colours, preservatives, antioxidants and fl avour enhancers


Bowel parasites


Urticaria and anaphylaxis


Latex Tree and groundnuts

bee and wasp stings

 Celery, parsley, carrots


Vaccines Spices

Blood products Apples

Crustaceans (lobsters, shrimp, crab) Peaches



Aggravating factors in chronic urticaria


Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-infl ammatory

Dietary allergens

Upper respiratory tract infections



Premenstrual period in women



Unrelated viral infections




Treatment depends upon the severity of episodes. Most cases are easily controlled with antihistamines while others may require immunomodulators. The key in chronic urticaria is to take regular treatment to suppress the episodes.


Frequently asked questions

Why do they happen?

It could be due to a variety of causes as mentioned above but mostly the cause is not known.

Will they ever resolve?

Yes it will. The lesions will resolve spontaneously with time though it is difficult to predict how long it will take. In some people it resolves in a week and in few it takes a few years.

Can it be cured?

It can be controlled very effectively with a single safe medicine containing antihistamines.

How do I control it?

It can easily be controlled in most cases with just a small tablet of antihistamines. These reduce the itching and also suppress the episodes from occurring.

How long to I have to take medicines?

Usually the medicines need to be taken for 2 months time. The duration and dosage depends upon the severity of episodes.

Can I take medicines after the lesions occur?

It is best if you take the medicines regularly at a fixed time everyday in order to suppress the lesions. Once the itching starts the medicines take longer time to act causing distress to the patient.

Are these medicines safe?

Antihistamines are very safe and can be taken for years without nay side effects.

Should I do some allergy testing?

No. Allergy tests are very non-specific and do not have any value in urticaria.

My lesions last for more than 24 hours. What can they be?

In cases where the lesions last more than 24 hours, and there is burning more than itching then it could be urticarial vasculitis. This is also a treatable condition. You should visit a dermatologist and seek opinion.

Is there anything I need to avoid to stop getting the lesions?

In case a specific trigger like a drug or food item causes urticaria everytime you take it and does not occur when the trigger is not present, then these need to be avoided. If the lesions occur randomly and not related to any drug, food, temperature, pressure or other factors then there is no need to avoid.