There are various causes of urticaria, such as skin and sensory sensitivities, allergens, and other rare causes. Sometimes referred to as hives, they are red, bumpy areas of skin that itches. When the body encounters an allergen, mast cells begin to produce histamine, which is released into the surrounding area.
The histamine makes nearby blood vessels leak fluid, causing localized redness and swelling. Itching and pain are further caused due to irritation of nerve cells stemming from the release of histamine.
In terms of size, hives can be as small as some tiny raised bumps to large patches that cover significant areas on the body. They ca be a light pinkish color or bright red. The reddened sections will blanche, or temporarily turn white when touched, turning back to red after a few seconds.
Severe cases of hives can last several hours to several days. If hives are still present after six weeks, then it is classified as chronic urticaria.
There are several well-known types of allergens which tend to cause urticaria. These include medications, food, insect bites, bee stings, and pet dander. It is possible for an individual to suffer from a severe reaction to these allergens, even if they had no prior outbreaks when coming into contact with the allergen or experienced similar reactions before.
If they develop urticaria, the sufferer needs to be closely examined for signs of anaphylaxis.
Suffering an anaphylactic reaction means that the hives originated internally, often in the throat or oral region. This can result in various breathing problems. Urticaria is frequently the initial sign of an anaphylactic reaction.
Many individuals who know their allergens and have suffered from severe reactions in the past will carry a syringe and sufficient doses of epinephrine (an epipen), which is to be injected into the leg immediately upon experiencing a histamine reaction.
If an individual suffers both from shortness of breath and signs of urticaria, they may need to visit an emergency room for treatment and monitoring.
Skin and Sensory Sensitivies
Additionally, skin and other sensory sensitivities can also lead to urticaria. These may sensitivities may involve water, sunlight, temperature fluctuations, or when enough pressure is exerted on to the skin, such as when one wears tight clothing for long periods of time.
Furthermore, the body can have reactions to synthetic materials in deodorant, perfumes, and detergents which can also elevate histamine levels in the body, leading to an outbreak of hives. Most of these scenarios can be avoided simply by using different products and wearing different clothing, as well as being cognizant of temperature and sun exposure.
Some causes of urticaria are harder to diagnose. For instance, individuals may develop hives when they are excessively stressed or excited. It may also be a symptom of an auto-immune disease, like lupus. Typically, the trigger for urticaria is never identified, and is therefore labeled idiopathic.