Urticaria is a condition characterized by the development of wheals (hives), angioedema or both. Wheals usually appear as reddish spots on the skin, with a lighter area in the center, varying in size and very itchy, with a complete resolution within 24 hours. Angioedema is similar to hives, but the swelling occurs in the lower dermis and subcutis or mucose membranes and can last up to 72 hours; for this reasons it can be life-threatening if airway obstruction occurs because of laryngeal edema or tongue swelling.

Urticaria is classified based on its duration

  • acute urticaria (≤ 6 weeks)
  • chronic urticaria (> 6 weeks)

and on the eliciting factor involved in its development which could be aspecific (spontaneous urticaria) or specific (inducible urticaria). It may also be that it’s impossible to find out exactly why hives have formed, especially for chronic urticaria.


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