Urticaria (Hives)

What is Urticaria (Hives)

Urticaria, which is also known as ‘hives’, ‘weals’ or ‘nettle rash’, is a red, raised and itchy rash caused by swelling of the upper layers of skin. Depending on the timescale of symptoms, urticaria may be classified into two types: acute and chronic. In acute urticaria, the rash completely disappears within six weeks (most cases resolve within 24 – 48 hours). By contrast, the symptoms of chronic urticaria either persist or come and go over a period greater than six weeks. Acute urticaria is a very common condition, affecting 1 in 6 people during their lifetime. Chronic urticaria is less common, affecting about 1 in every 1000 people.

There are a number of causes which range from allergic reactions to unknown causes (see causes). Treatments for Urticaria or hives depend on the severity of the condition and range from home treatments with creams or anti-histamines to stop the itching to prescription medications (see treatments).