Hives – why does it occur, what are its types and how to treat it?

The appearance of the skin often reflects the condition of the body.

Due to the numerous nerve endings, it is very susceptible to various stimuli, which causes external changes in the skin. One of them is urticaria, which, although it seems harmless, can be associated with various types of diseases, so it should not be underestimated.

Hives – what is it?

Hives is a skin condition that can have many causes. Regardless of the pathogen, the symptoms of the disease are always similar. They resemble stinging nettles. Cutaneous urticaria is characterized by a high dynamics of changes, which can be both focal and centralized. They usually take the form of redness and small blisters, often accompanied by severe itching. Urticaria is characterized by the sudden onset and disappearance of symptoms. However, if the lesions persist for more than six weeks, chronic urticaria is considered.

How does urticaria appear?

Histamine plays a significant role in this process, which causes the blood vessels to dilate and increase their permeability to water. The result of this process is the formation of blisters on the skin. Depending on the causative agent of the urticaria, the release of histamine may be initiated by the immune system of an antibody (in response to an allergen) or it may be spontaneous (idiopathic urticaria).

The main types of hives are:

• acute urticaria (lasting up to 6 weeks),
• chronic urticaria
• idiopathic urticaria
• physical urticaria
• cholinergic urticaria,
• contact urticaria.

One type of physical urticaria is heat urticaria… It is a very unpleasant variety that occurs when exposed to physical stimuli such as high fever (over 40 degrees). In fact, a few minutes of exposure is sufficient for the appearance of skin symptoms. Other factors that cause idiopathic urticaria include:

• pressure (clothing, belts, braces),
• cold air
• sweat,
• stress,
• water
• solar radiation
• physical activity

Hives have been shown to be much more common in people with sensitive skin or those with atypical dermatitis. Perhaps this is due to the increased sensitivity of receptors present in the skin, as well as to a much greater sensitivity of the immune system to various external stimuli.

Heat urticaria symptoms

How does heat urticaria manifest? As in other cases, it usually manifests itself in the form of blisters, which are accompanied by severe itching. Blisters usually reach a maximum diameter of several centimeters and disappear 24 hours after they appear.

Symptoms can appear not only with direct contact with a heated surface, but also with an increase in body temperature, for example, as a result of sunlight or physical activity. They usually cover the top layers of skin around the neck, nose, or upper and lower extremities, but sometimes they even appear around the eyes and mouth.

The biggest problem for hives patients is that scratching and rubbing does not offer any relief. Therefore, it is necessary to use special therapeutic agents.

Allergic urticaria – what causes it and how is it treated?

Allergic urticaria is another common type of urticaria. In her case, the explosion of histamine is caused by the stimulation of mast cells by allergic mechanisms. In this situation, urticaria is considered by doctors as an allergic skin disease. Eczema occurs as a result of the immune system’s reaction to various allergens. Among them, first of all:

• highly sensitizing foods (for example, nuts or egg white, cow’s milk protein),
• foods with a lot of histamine (cheese, fish),
• penicillin and its derivatives,
• non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
• sulfonamides,
• insect venom (wasps, bees).

In extreme cases, allergic urticaria is only an initial symptom and can develop into an anaphylactic reaction, which is a direct threat to the patient’s health and life.

How is hives treated?

Most often, it disappears on its own after a dozen or so hours. Treatment is only symptomatic and includes relieving persistent itching and swelling of the skin. Antihistamines are used for this purpose. If the urticaria is extremely intense, higher doses of antihistamines can be used, of course, after consulting a doctor or pharmacist.

However, if urticaria is frequent or chronic, steroid-containing drugs may be required, and in cases of extreme resistance, cyclosporine may be required. However, this type of therapy should always be checked with your doctor.

Hives and stress

About 10% of the population has a specific type of urticaria called cholinergic. Stress is one of the reasons that cause this variety. It has been shown that in people with sensitive skin, intense experiences and stressful situations in daily or professional life can disrupt the normal functioning of the body and overstimulate the neurotransmitters of the skin. In stressful situations, histamine is released and sweating occurs, which, in turn, leads to the appearance of numerous urticaria blisters.

The observations of scientists have shown that most often stress urticaria occurs in people who suppress their emotions, as a result of which they have a strong nervous tension. This type of urticaria usually presents with small but very itchy blisters, mainly on the trunk, but sometimes also on the hands or individual fingers. It has also been noted that stress-related urticaria is more common in younger people, who experience much worse mood swings. This is due to hormonal changes taking place in their body. Interestingly, stress-related urticaria usually recurs and can accompany the patient for years.

Fortunately, properly diagnosed hives are relatively easy to treat. Therapy in this case is based on the use of mild antihistamines in combination with natural sedatives.

Hives and skin care

Due to the fact that thermal and allergic types of urticaria are skin diseases and affect its condition, people prone to their appearance are advised to use cosmetic products for delicate care, preferably for sensitive skin. It is worth choosing specialized products available in pharmacies, i.e. dermocosmetics. They also often contain special ingredients that reduce swelling and skin irritation.

Products used against urticaria should be pH balanced and as short as possible without unnecessary additives such as flavors and chemical preservatives. Gentle micellar and cleansing facial lotions, moisturizers and soothing creams, or products that provide high sun protection are especially helpful for sun-induced heat urticaria.

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