Urticaria – Why It Occurs and How to Avoid It



Urticaria is a common condition, with 20% of people at risk of being affected at some time in their lives.

Manifestations of the disease are expressed by rashes, which are round, oval, or ring-shaped and white, pink, or red in color. Because urticaria is similar to a rash caused by nettle stings, it is also called nettle rash. It is also known as hives, welts, or wheals.

Hives are very itchy and may appear on different parts of the body. Some of them disappear in 2-3 hours and new ones are formed in other areas. After they subside, the affected skin remains red for some time.

In some people, urticaria may be accompanied by swelling of the eyelids, lips, and even the genitals.

What causes urticaria?

The causes of urticaria can be of different nature. They provoke the release of histamine from mast cell skin cells. As a result, fluid passes under the surface of the skin through the walls of small blood vessels. Hives are formed due to its accumulation. Dilation of blood vessels by histamine and other compounds occurs, which causes redness.

In many cases of urticaria, the provoking factor is difficult to detect. It can be a common cold or medicine, sun exposure, specific food or contact with plants.

The most common causes of urticaria can be divided into several groups:


  • foods – strawberries, eggs, seafood, chocolate, or nuts;
  • some medications – vaccines, antibiotics, ACE inhibitors, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, serums, etc.;
  • bee and wasp stings, mosquitoes, fleas, and spiders;
  • inhaled allergens – house dust, perfumes, pollens, down;
  • various fungi, viruses, parasites.


  • diseases of various systems and organs – gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, endocrine, neurovegetative, psychosomatic;
  • autoimmune diseases;
  • malignant diseases.

Other risk factors can be physical such as mechanical impacts, cold or heat, light, as well as stress, pregnancy or physical exertion.

There are different types of urticaria. Based on the course, it is acute and chronic, while based on the provoking factor – cholinergic, contact, vascular, psychogenic, and others.

Urticaria is not contagious and does not spread through close human-to-human contact.

The cause of the disease is determined by a comprehensive approach. In most cases, treatment aims to relieve symptoms until the disease subsides. Antihistamines or corticosteroids are usually used in more severe cases.

Can urticaria be prevented?

If the cause of hives is known, for example, an allergy to medicine or food, it should be eliminated. Preventative measures are also avoiding suspected allergens and other factors:

  • foods that cause the symptoms;
  • known allergens confirmed by tests;
  • physical initiating factors;
  • taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opiates.

Factors that aggravate urticaria can be alcohol, caffeine, and stress.

In most cases, the condition of urticaria is relieved by a cold shower or cold compress. It is mandatory to follow the recommendations of the dermatologist in order to avoid Quincke’s edema, bacterial infection, depression, and more complications.

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