Hives (Urticaria)

Itchy, raised red areas on the skin. Hives are caused by a reaction to certain foods, drugs, infections, or emotional stress. Also called urticaria.

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(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

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Evidence reviews

Efficacy and safety of desloratadine in chronic urticaria: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Zhang X M, Guo J B, Li Q, Zhang T D.  Efficacy and safety of desloratadine in chronic urticaria: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2009; 9(7): 796-801

H1‐antihistamines for chronic spontaneous urticaria

Chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) is a condition characterised by a rash of red itchy raised weals or hives, which appear for no identifiable reason. Other names include chronic idiopathic or chronic ordinary urticaria. 'Spontaneous' differentiates this type of urticaria from 'inducible' or 'physical' urticaria, for which there are specific triggers such as cold or pressure. 'Chronic' indicates that the condition has continued for at least six weeks. Hives may be intensely itchy, and the appearance may be unsightly and distressing to sufferers. In some cases, hives can be accompanied by deeper swelling, known as angio‐oedema, which is most common around the eyes and mouth.

Effectiveness and safety of Chinese angelica decoction for chronic urticaria: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Shi CR, Shi CB, Cuang QH, Li YP, Yan X, Ren WM.  Effectiveness and safety of Chinese angelica decoction for chronic urticaria: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2012; 12(10): 1261-1269 Available from: http://www.cjebm.org.cn/en/oa/DArticle.aspx?type=view&id=20121016

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Summaries for consumers

H1‐antihistamines for chronic spontaneous urticaria

Chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) is a condition characterised by a rash of red itchy raised weals or hives, which appear for no identifiable reason. Other names include chronic idiopathic or chronic ordinary urticaria. 'Spontaneous' differentiates this type of urticaria from 'inducible' or 'physical' urticaria, for which there are specific triggers such as cold or pressure. 'Chronic' indicates that the condition has continued for at least six weeks. Hives may be intensely itchy, and the appearance may be unsightly and distressing to sufferers. In some cases, hives can be accompanied by deeper swelling, known as angio‐oedema, which is most common around the eyes and mouth.

Comparing New Antihistamines

How do newer antihistamines compare in treating allergic rhinitis?

Histamine‐blocking drugs for hives

Urticaria is a common skin disease characterised by itching weals or hives that can appear anywhere on the surface of the skin. Weals may be pinpoint in size or several inches in diameter. Most sufferers experience hives continuously or intermittently for less than six weeks, but they may last longer (when they are then called 'chronic'). Urticaria can also be accompanied by angioedema (swelling of a deeper layer of the skin). There are several varieties of urticaria, but the most common forms are acute urticaria and chronic urticaria. Common causes of acute urticaria are infections and adverse reactions to medications and foods, whereas in chronic urticaria the cause is often unknown. Intense itching is common, and it can lead to disturbed sleep and even depression, having a serious impact on a person's quality of life. As the face and other exposed body parts can be affected, hives and angioedema can prove embarrassing for the individual.

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