Urticaria is otherwise known as “hives”. They appear as itchy, pink bumps on the skin. The eyelids and lips can become swollen if affected. The rash is usually short-lived, lasting for minutes to hours, and disappears without leaving any scars. Urticaria is caused by the release of histamine, a chemical present in white blood cells in our bloodstream. Histamine release leads to the leakage of fluid from small blood vessels into the skin, resulting in swelling, redness and itch.

Often, the exact cause of urticaria cannot be identified. Some well-known triggers include: physical factors(eg heat, cold, exercise, pressure on the skin), infections, alcohol, certain foods and certain drugs. Most of the time, urticaria is a short-lived condition, lasting for a few days to weeks. In the minority of cases, urticaria can become a chronic problem.

The treatment of urticaria includes avoidance of any known triggers as well as the use of oral antihistamines. For severe, persistent urticaria, other forms of oral medications such as mast cell stabilizers and immunosuppressants may be used.

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