Dr. Hina Altaf Dermatologist

Urticaria (Hives)

Urticaria (Hives)

Urticaria – also known as hives, weals, welts, or nettle rash – is a raised, itchy rash that appears on the skin. It may appear on one part of the body or be spread across large areas. The rash is usually very itchy and ranges in size from a few millimeters to the size of a hand. They typically last for a few hours to a few days before disappearing, only to reappear in a different location.

Although the affected area may change in appearance within 24 hours, the rash usually settles within a few days. It is usually caused by an allergic reaction to a substance, such as certain foods, medications, insect bites, or environmental factors such as heat or cold. In some cases, it may be triggered by physical stimuli, such as pressure or exercise.

As an individual experiencing skin reactions, the emergence of elevated and itchy welts on the skin can lead to feelings of distress and discomfort. The condition can cause a range of symptoms, including itching, burning, and stinging sensations on the skin. The welts can also be painful, especially if they occur in areas where clothing or other materials rub against the skin.

It’s important to identify and avoid triggers that may be causing the disorder. This may involve keeping a diary of foods, medications, or environmental factors that seem to trigger the condition. In some cases, allergy testing may be necessary to identify the cause of the allergic reaction.

There are several types of urticaria, each with their own specific causes and treatments.

Here are some of the most common types of urticaria:

  •  Acute urticaria: This represents the most frequently encountered variation of skin rash. and it typically lasts for less than six weeks. It is often caused by an allergic reaction to foods, medications, or insect bites, and it can be treated with antihistamines.
  • Chronic urticaria: This form lasts for more than six weeks and can be difficult to treat. The reason behind persistent chronic skin rash is frequently unclear, but it could potentially be linked to an autoimmune condition. Treatment for this disorder may involve a combination of antihistamines, corticosteroids, and other medications.
  • Physical urticaria: This is triggered by physical stimuli, such as pressure, heat, cold, or exercise. The management of physical hypersensitivity might encompass avoiding the trigger, taking antihistamines, or using topical corticosteroids.
  • Dermatographic urticaria: This type is caused by scratching or rubbing the skin. The welts often appear within minutes of the skin being scratched or rubbed, and they can be treated with antihistamines.
  • Cholinergic urticaria: This is triggered by sweating or exposure to heat, and it can be treated with antihistamines or other medications.
  • Contact urticaria: This is caused by direct contact with an allergen, such as latex or nickel. Treatment for contact urticaria may involve avoiding the allergen and using topical corticosteroids.
  • Hereditary angioedema: This is a rare form of urticaria that is caused by a genetic defect. It can cause swelling of the face, hands, feet, and internal organs, and it can be treated with medications that help prevent attacks.

As a general rule, managing the condition of concern might encompass identifying and avoiding triggers, taking antihistamines, using topical corticosteroids, or using other medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional.

If you are encountering signs of this condition, it’s crucial to seek medical help to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. It’s important to practice good skin care habits, such as using mild soaps and avoiding hot showers or baths.

In some cases, urticaria may be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as an autoimmune disorder or thyroid disease. If you experience recurrent or severe episodes of disorder, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.


The occurrence of hives can serve as an initial indicator of a severe allergic response referred to as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis should always be treated as a medical emergency.

Urgent action

Call Emergency services if:

Either you or another individual is affected by hives and is encountering anaphylaxis symptoms such as:

  • swollen eyes, lips, hands and feet
  • feeling lightheaded or faint
  • narrowing of the airways, which can cause wheezing and breathing difficulties
  • abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • collapsing and becoming unconscious

Minimal Downtime

You can return to your daily routine immediately after

Immediate Results

Results within 24 to 48 hours, with full results in 30 days

Painless Procedure

Brief period of discomfort during the injection, similar to a pinch

Results That Last

Effects typically last for several months

Urticaria, commonly known as hives, is a skin condition characterized by raised, itchy, and red or skin-colored welts that can appear anywhere on the body. It is usually caused by an allergic reaction or immune response triggered by certain substances, medications, or underlying medical conditions.
Urticaria can be triggered by various factors, including allergens (such as certain foods, medications, or insect bites), physical stimuli (like pressure, cold, heat, or sunlight), infections, stress, and underlying autoimmune or inflammatory conditions. Identifying and avoiding triggers is an important step in managing urticaria.
Acute urticaria typically lasts for a few hours to a few days, while chronic urticaria can persist for several weeks or even months. In some cases, chronic urticaria may last for years. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop a suitable treatment plan.
Treatment for urticaria aims to relieve symptoms, identify and manage triggers, and reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks. This may involve antihistamine medications to alleviate itching and inflammation, avoiding known triggers, taking steps to minimize stress, and, in some cases, using corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive medications.
It is advisable to seek medical attention if you experience severe or persistent symptoms of urticaria, such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, dizziness, or if the hives are accompanied by other concerning symptoms. A healthcare professional can evaluate your condition, determine the underlying cause, and provide appropriate treatment options.

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Dr. Hinah Altaf’s clinic is currently at Gargash Hospital, 145 Umm Suqeim Street – Umm Al Sheif -Dubai.