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A common skin condition in which itchy, reddish, pinkish or flesh-colored bumps appear on the skin.

Urticaria (蕁麻疹, 風癩), also called hives is a common skin condition in which itchy, reddish, pinkish or flesh-colored bumps appear on the skin.  

Causes of urticaria                                                                                                 

There are many causes of urticaria, but usually, it is caused by the body's allergic reaction to specific external substances or environments, including: 

  • Food, drugs 
  • Environmental triggers or animal hair dander 
  • Chemicals in food 
  • Insect bite 
  • Skin pressure 
  • Sunlight 
  • Sweating during exercise 
  • Contact with cosmetics or hair dye 
  • Parasites 
  • Temperature, women’s period or psychological stress 


Types of urticaria 

  • Acute urticaria/angioedema 

Symptoms usually last for 6 weeks. Common triggers include food, drugs, latex or infection. The most common rash-causing foods include shellfish, nuts, chocolate, fish, wheat and milk; triggering drugs include aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 

  • Chronic urticaria 
Recurrent episodes occurring twice a week that usually lasts for at least 6 weeks. It is more difficult to identify the trigger than acute urticaria. The causes are similar to those mentioned above, and may also be caused by autoimmune diseases, chronic infections, hormonal imbalances or malignant tumors. 
  • Cholinergic urticaria 
Sweating caused by exercise, heat, stress, or eating spicy food 
  • Dermatographia (Dermatographism) 
Also called “skin writing”. Itching caused by scratching or rubbing the skin, especially when the environment is hot. 
  • Solar urticaria (rare) 
Rash after sun exposure, skin redness, swelling and itching  
  • Cold shock urticaria 
Rain, wind, and cold water can cause itching. Swimming in cold water can cause severe rash or even dizziness. 
  • Aquagenic urticaria (rare) 
Rash caused by contact with water, usually on the upper body 
  • Contact urticaria 
Appears within minutes of contact with chemicals, food, plants, animals, and animal products 
  • Angioedema 
Angioedema (swelling of the deeper layers of the skin) without hives can be caused by medications such as aspirin, ACE inhibitors, or food sensitivities 
  • Hereditary angioedema 
Swelling and pain in the face, mouth, throat and stomach are inherited in families and are caused by the lack of a certain protein in the serum. 


Urticaria symptoms 

There are 3 main categories of common symptoms, with severity depending on the symptoms and scope: 

  • Rash: "rash" appears everywhere on the skin without leaving scars 
  • Itching: There is usually an itching sensation in the rash, especially at night 
  • Angioedema: Swelling in areas where the skin is thin, such as around the eyes and lips 


How do I know if it is urticaria? 

There are currently no specific tests for urticaria or angioedema. The doctor will study the patient's medical record to decide which test to use: 

  • Regular blood tests to detect systemic diseases 
  • Understand the patient’s medical history and the medications they are taking

Urticaria treatment  

  • Identify what triggers it and try to avoid them 
  • Take antihistamine medications as directed by your physician 
  • Take oral corticosteroids from your doctor or prescription 
  • Severe cases may require epinephrine injections or steroids 
  • Taking immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine as directed by your physician 


Prevention for urticaria 

  • Avoid eating high-histamine foods such as alcohol, eggplant or dairy products 
  • Relieve stress and avoid scratching 
  • Use a food diary to find rash triggers 
  • Avoid contact with hot water 
  • Use mild, fragrance-free soap 
  • Work and sleep in a cool room 
  • Apply a cold compress or wet cloth to the rash area 
  • Wearing loose clothing 
  • Avoid foods that are fermented and contain a lot of coloring, preservatives or additives 

OT&P Advice 

There are many causes of urticaria, usually caused by the body's allergic reaction to specific external substances or the environment. Therefore, the main thing is to avoid known triggers first, and if you are unfortunate enough to develop it, avoid scratching, and take your doctor or prescribed oral medications such as antihistamines and corticosteroids. If you have any questions, please consult your family doctor. 

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  1. Mayo Clinic. Chronic hives. 15 Sept 2023 Retrieved from  
  2. DermNet. Urticaria – an overview. 15 Sept 2023 Retrieved from  
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Hives. 15 Sept 2023 Retrieved from  
  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 WAYS TO GET RELIEF FROM CHRONIC HIVES. 15 Sept 2023 Retrieved from  

Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.

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