Chronic idiopathic urticaria is a skin condition that manifests in the form of hives on the skin, usually on one’s extremities and face. The hives, or wheals, can be both itchy and painful; each one may remain on the skin for a few hours or even over a day as older hives subside and new ones develop.
Sufferers may not always have a hives outbreak all the time, since it comes and goes for no obvious reason; even common triggers like stress or heat may not be the cause. Over time, sufferers of this condition may also develop angioedema, which is when painful swelling and welts appear under the surface of the skin and in nearby tissues.
As a result of the unattractive appearance of hives, many patients suffer from psychological issues, such as depression, as a secondary symptom.
The primary symptom of chronic idiopathic urticaria is the constant outbreak of hives on the skin, with the condition lasting longer than six weeks. The wheals can cover anywhere from a few small spots or large patches. They are generally red in color and elevated from the surrounding tissue.
Additionally, they are itchy and inflamed; some sufferers end up with scars from all their scratching. The lesions can also leak fluid from capillaries beneath the surface of the skin. Though a hives outbreak can occur anywhere on the body, the vast majority of the time they appear on the hands, feet, and face.
Many patients who suffer from chronic idiopathic urticaria also suffer from angioedema. This occurs when there is discoloration and swelling underneath the skin in addition to the itchy red bumps of hives on the surface of the skin.
Often the afflicted areas cause a burning and painful sensation. The surrounding tissues can also become swollen due to angioedema. This is especially dangerous if the swelling develops in the throat, which will hinder breathing.
The constant outbreak of hives caused by chronic idiopathic urticaria can be disfiguring and a great source of embarrassment for patients. This is further compounded by the fact that it is hard to determine the specific trigger for hives. As a result, patients commonly suffer from depression.
It is quite difficult for sufferers to mask the lesions on their face, and thus their condition is often met with scrutiny from others. There is currently no known cure. As such, it can come and go sporadically, and effectively treating it is extremely difficult. It is very disheartening for patients since they have no control of their condition, and they can only hope it subsides on its own.