Urticaria: A review

Poonawalla T, Kelly B.
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2009; 10 (1): 9-21. doi: 10.2165/0128071-200910010-00002.


Urticaria is often classified as acute, chronic, or physical based on duration of symptoms and the presence or absence of inducing stimuli. Urticarial vasculitis, contact urticaria, and special syndromes are also included under the broad heading of urticaria. Recent advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of chronic urticaria include the finding of autoantibodies to mast cell receptors in nearly half of patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria. These patients may have more severe disease and require more aggressive therapies. Extensive laboratory evaluation for patients with chronic urticaria is typically unrevealing and there are no compelling data that associate urticaria with chronic infections or malignancy. Pharmacologic therapy consists primarily of the appropriate use of first­ and second­generation histamine H1 receptor antihistamines. Additional therapy may include leukotriene receptor antagonists, corticosteroids, and immunomodulatory agents for severe, unremitting disease. Despite our greater understanding of the pathogenesis of urticaria, the condition remains a frustrating entity for many patients, particularly those with chronic urticaria.

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