Urticaria: risk factors, features of manifestation

It is wrong to consider urticaria as an independent, separate disease. This is a whole group of identical diseases of an allergenic nature. The characteristic manifestations of the disease are multiple itchy rashes of a red (bright pink) color on the skin and mucous membranes, which can appear on any part of the body. The urticaria begins with the appearance of red spots that grow rapidly, really becoming like blisters from nettle burns.  

The rash consists of blisters having different sizes and shapes. But unlike localized nettle burns, rashes with hives spread to the whole body. This condition is caused by the reaction of the body to any allergen, causing the cells of the immune system to produce biologically active substances that dilate blood vessels. That is, at first there is a sharp expansion of blood vessels, causing an influx of fluid to the tissues (swelling). Then there is a narrowing of the vessels, as a result of which the skin becomes pale, anemic.

Features of the disease

Urticaria is an immediate and delayed type of development. In the first case, an allergic reaction develops rapidly, in just a few minutes. Symptoms of delayed urticaria, on the contrary, appear gradually over several days. 

A characteristic feature of the disease is the sudden formation of multiple small blisters of various diameters and shapes on any part of the skin integument. Rashes have a dense structure, continue to grow within 1-2 hours, and with timely treatment, they also suddenly disappear.

After some time, the blisters may reappear – either on the same part of the body, or on another. Skin rashes with urticaria are accompanied by intolerable itching, which gives the person real torment, sometimes with a headache and fever.

If urticaria proceeds in an acute form, the attack lasts, as a rule, several hours. In some cases, an allergic reaction does not go away within a few days. In chronic urticaria, seizures can last from several months to several years.

The disease equally affects adults and children. However, due to increased metabolism, as well as the active functioning of the sweat glands, infant urticaria progresses faster and is more difficult. Sometimes urticaria in children can develop as a result of advanced prickly heat, turning into dermatitis.  

There are frequent cases when secondary infections join the urticaria – staphylococcal or streptococcal. Symptoms of the joined infection are multiple red pustules with white dots in the center. The process may be accompanied by weakness, lethargy, general malaise, headaches, fever.

Any kind of urticaria can develop into the so-called giant urticaria and cause Quincke’s edema, which often leads to death. This happens suddenly and rapidly, which is the main danger of this disease.

Risk factors

The classification of urticaria is based on the etiological factors that provoked an allergic reaction of the body. The causes of the disease can be very diverse.  

1. Medical preparations. A risk factor for urticaria is taking certain groups of drugs, mainly penicillin drugs – antibiotics, pain medications (novocaine, lidocaine, etc.).

2. An allergic reaction may occur due to bites of certain insects: bees, wasps, midges, ants, gadflies, some species of Hymenoptera.

3. Contact with some types of plants (meadow grass, marsh duckweed, etc.) can also cause the development of urticaria. In this case, contact dermatitis first occurs, which, in the absence of adequate treatment, becomes allergic urticaria.

4. Food urticaria is an allergic reaction caused by eating certain foods.  

5. The so-called physical urticaria occurs due to prolonged exposure to the skin of ultraviolet rays (solar urticaria), low temperatures (cold urticaria).

6. The development of urticaria can sometimes provoke giardia, worms or other parasitic infestation.

Treatment of urticaria is a complex and lengthy process. Treatment tactics are developed depending on the causes of the disease, the form and type of urticaria, clinical manifestations and stage of development, the severity of the process. Independent measures in any case are unacceptable – at the slightest manifestations of urticaria, you should seek professional medical help, undergo an examination and begin the course of treatment prescribed by your doctor. 

event_note April 1, 2020

account_box Winona Tse MD

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