Urticaria: what provokes allergies and how to get rid of it

Health Tips

Test at home

Often people complain about the so-called cold urticaria, when a rash occurs while being outside with a noticeable cold snap. Then on the hands you can see a small red rash that itches. You can check yourself at home: rub a piece of ice on the outer and inner side of the elbow – you will either get a reaction in the form of redness, or you will only feel a touch of ice.

Urticaria is an allergic reaction. As a result of the activation of mast cells in them, the release of histamine and other mediators begins, which cause the formation of an itchy blister on the skin. It can appear locally, for example, on the hands, or it can cover the body almost completely, including the face. When you press on the place of redness, the skin turns pale. Urticaria can take different forms, appear and disappear again.

Pathology is short-term and chronic. It is believed that the disease is unpleasant, but not life-threatening. However, in rare cases, urticaria can be accompanied by Quincke’s edema and be fatal. Quincke’s edema is hard not to notice – this is a pronounced swelling of the subcutaneous tissue, sometimes reaching frightening proportions. And it is always caused by an allergic reaction.

What can cause hives

  • allergies to a number of foods (strawberries, chocolate, peanuts, eggs, nuts, some cheeses and crustaceans);

  • some antibiotics (eg penicillin);

  • cosmetics (your skin may react to a single component of a cream);

  • cold, heat, that is, the effect of temperatures;

  • latex (in rare cases);

  • bacterial infections;

  • viral infections, especially SARS, infectious mononucleosis and hepatitis;

  • Pets;

  • some plants.

As mentioned above, hives can be short-term – as a reaction to a specific stimulus. As soon as the trigger disappears, the clinical signs also disappear. But if the urticaria does not go away within a few weeks or comes back in certain seasons (cold or solar urticaria), it is worth going to the doctor and figuring out what is the trigger. For starters, you can contact a general practitioner who will refer you to a dermatologist or allergist. The latter will collect an anamnesis, find out if you have been in contact with pets, what cosmetics you use, analyze your food diary, and prescribe allergy tests.

The true cause of chronic urticaria is difficult to establish and not always possible. Some for years, at different periods of time, suffer from hives, change doctors and treatment methods, but still cannot get rid of the manifestations.

“Just according to statistics, in 70-80% they never find the cause of hives. Each doctor advises something of his own: some continue to look for parasites, some allergens to take, some to diet, some not to be nervous. Usually I was relieved of an acute condition in the hospital and then gradually, over four months, everything came to naught. But now something doesn’t really go away, or rather it goes away and after some time comes back again. Spots on the skin are still okay, but when it comes to swelling, it becomes really difficult, ”one of the users shares her experience of living with the disease.

Solar and cold urticaria

These types of allergic reactions are very common. For example, rashes and itching may appear after exposure to the sun. According to doctors, solar urticaria is a rare type of allergy, which is provoked by ultraviolet radiation of various ranges. It is also possible in our latitudes – not only in hot countries. What happens in the sun? Under the action of solar radiation, the structure of some proteins in the skin changes and they become photoallergens. Altered proteins can cause the production of class E immunoglobulins, which are found on the surface of skin mast cells. As a result, histamine is released and the person sees small red blisters on the skin.

Solar urticaria occurs very quickly, it is enough for a person to spend no more than five minutes in direct sunlight. It occurs not only in open areas of the body. Thin clothing fabrics do not save the skin from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Do not protect against radiation, even car glass or window glass in the premises. There are cases when patients have encountered solar urticaria avoiding direct sunlight. Symptoms may include headache, palpitations, weakness, even Quincke’s edema is possible. That is why it is so important to contact a specialist in time.

Now, with the onset of the winter season, a number of people will experience cold urticaria. It would seem that in this case there is no specific allergen either, but nevertheless, when exposed to low temperatures, histamine can be released, provoking an allergic reaction – redness, itching, swelling. So the body reacts to an irritant in the form of a decrease in temperature outside the window. As in the case of solar urticaria, an allergic reaction to cold develops very quickly, it is enough to be outside in sub-zero temperatures for 5-20 minutes. The changes are reversible and when exposed to a warm room, the manifestations on the skin disappear.

Treatment Methods

If we are not talking about cold or solar urticaria, a diet is prescribed. You will definitely need to exclude cheeses, chocolate, strawberries, peanuts, salami, dairy products from the menu – all of them can increase an allergic reaction.

You will need to take antihistamines and use antihistamine ointments. In some cases, hormonal ointments with corticosteroids are prescribed.

The most modern treatment for urticaria is the use of monoclonal antibodies. Such therapy allows you to achieve complete control over the clinical symptoms of the disease, when the root cause remains unknown, that is, the allergen cannot be identified.

Photo: Pexels.com

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