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Hives and angiedema - urticaria

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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WOMEN'S HEALTH

Hair/Nails/Skin

Urticaria, also known as hives, is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumpsor patches (wheals) on the skin that appear suddenly - either as a result of the body's adverse reaction to certain allergens, or for unknown reasons.

Hives usually cause itching, but may also burn or sting. They can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat, or ears. Hives vary in size (from a pencil eraser to a dinner plate), and may join together to form larger areas known as plaques. They can last for hours, or up to three to four days before fading.

Angiedema is similar to urticaria, but the swelling occurs beneath the skin instead of on the surface. Angiedema is characterized by deep swelling around the eyes and lips and sometimes of the genitals, hands, and feet. It generally lasts longer than urticaria, but the swelling usually goes away in less than 24 hours.

In most cases, hives and angiedema are harmless and leave no lasting marks. The common treatment is medications. Serious angiedema can be life-threatening if swelling causes your throat or tongue to block your airway and leads to loss of consciousness.

Signs and symptoms

Acute hives can last from less than a day to up to 6 weeks, whereas chronic hives last more than 6 weeks — sometimes occurring for months to years at a time. Often, angiedema and hives occur together.

Signs and symptoms of hives include:

  • Raised, red, often itchy welts of various sizes that appear and disappear on your skin

  • Wheals that commonly occur on areas of the body where clothes rub your skin

  • Wheals that tend to occur in batches

Signs and symptoms of angiedema include large welts or swelling of the skin, especially near your eyes and lips but also on your hands and feet and inside your throat.

Signs and symptoms of HAE include:

  • Sudden and severe swelling of your face, arms, legs, hands, feet, genitalia, digestive tract and airway

  • Abdominal cramping as a result of digestive tract swelling

  • Difficulty or obstructed breathing due to swelling of your airway

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 

 



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Last Modified : 05/14/08 07:40 AM