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Urticaria is characterised by weals (hives) or angioedema (swellings, in 10%) or both (in 40%).

Urticaria is classified according to its duration:

  • Acute urticaria (< 6 weeks duration, and often gone within hours to days)
  • Chronic urticaria (> 6 weeks duration, with daily or episodic weals)
Acute urticaria

Acute urticaria can be induced by the following factors, but the cause is not always identified.

  • Acute viral infection—upper respiratory infection, viral hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis, mycoplasma
  • Acute bacterial infection—dental abscess, sinusitis
  • Food allergy —usually milk, egg, peanut, shellfish
  • Drug allergy
  • Vaccination
  • Bee or wasp stings
Chronic urticaria

Chronic urticaria may be spontaneous or inducible. Both types may co-exist.

– Chronic spontaneous urticaria is mainly idiopathic (cause unknown).

Chronic spontaneous urticaria has also been associated with:

  • Chronic underlying infection, such as Helicobacter pylori, bowel parasites
  • Chronic autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, thyroid disease, coeliac disease, vitiligo and others

– Inducible urticaria includes:

  • Symptomatic dermographism

  • Cold urticaria

  • Cholinergic urticaria

  • Contact urticaria

  • Delayed pressure urticaria

  • Solar urticaria
  • Heat urticaria
  • Vibratory urticaria
  • Aquagenic urticaria

          

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