Chronic Urticaria is not a lethal condition, but it does impact greatly the quality of life of those who carry it. This is why knowing it is vital, to be able to develop resources to handle it better and enjoy our lives in spite of it. In this article, you will find the answers to 10 of the most frequently asked questions about chronic urticaria.
1. Is Chronic Urticaria Some Kind Of Allergy?
NO. Even when some treatments may include the intake of antihistamine medication, Chronic urticaria is not an allergy. In some cases it can behave an autoimmune origin; this means that in blood tests, it is possible to find a high antibody count; these stimulate the mastocytes that release histamine in your body. In other cases, chronic urticaria can be idiopathic, which means that an exact cause or trigger cannot be pinpointed.
2. Does it have a cure?
Currently, since chronic urticaria is in many cases idiopathic, a causal treatment cannot be applied; therefore, it has no known cure. Every treatment strategy is oriented as palliative care; this means that the options offered will only address the symptoms and bring temporary relief. A positive aspect of this condition is that, in the vast majority of cases, chronic urticaria can disappear after several years without leaving any trace.
3. Who Should I See If I Have Symptoms?
The lack of a concrete diagnosis can cause emotional distress, that may worsen the symptoms. If you have any doubts about you, you can consult your family physician. They might refer you to a dermatologist or an allergologist since they are the specialists that have deeper knowledge in these cases and will be able to guide us better through whatever our condition might be. It is very important to trust them and be open to any questions we have about chronic urticaria and that they might have about your habits. It is also very advisable to ask your family members to check if any of them have ever presented similar symptoms.
4. How Is Chronic Urticaria Diagnosed?
In general terms, an isolated episode of urticaria without vascular swelling without aftermath does not require a medical examination. However, if the urticaria persists, repeats over time, is followed by significant swelling (with difficulty to breathe) or if you suspect that the cause might be a medication or a specific food, an allergy study is required. Since the skin lesions provoked by chronic urticaria appear constantly, it is important to search for a cause as soon as possible. Besides this study, your physician will look at your clinical history and your current symptoms.
5. I’ve Been Diagnosed With Chronic Urticaria. What Should I Expect?
Once you’ve been diagnosed, your specialist will offer you treatment options. In the cases in which a treatment is not completely effective, your specialist will do a follow-up and will suggest new options, favoring the most specific according to your case.
In many cases this condition can be hard to control, so we will have to be very patient, trust our medical team and remember that if the symptoms don’t subside over time with the suggested treatment, we are allowed to look for a second opinion from another dermatologist or allergy specialist.
Furthermore, it will be very useful for us and for our specialists to keep track of any changes we experience. Having a log in which we can write down our outbreaks, the number of lesions, the degree of the itch sensation, and additional symptoms will allow us to give the specialist useful information they can work with and better assess our condition.
6. Can I have More Than One Type Of Urticaria?
Yes. There is a type of urticaria called contact urticaria, produced in the zone in which the skin comes into contact with a physical stimulus such as cold, vibration, pressure, sun exposure, etc. The most frequent variant along chronic urticaria is called dermographism, produced after scratching.
7. Will It Go Away Someday?
This is the most relevant question for those who are recently diagnosed with chronic urticaria and those who are managing to control the symptoms through aggressive treatment. As stated before, it is possible in the vast majority of cases that the condition subsides spontaneously before the 5-year milestone. However, a slim percentage of people will have to wait longer for remission, and after this, there’s always the chance of it reappearing.
8. Will I Have Any Dietary Restrictions?
The link between Chronic Urticaria and food remains unclear at best. However, some foods rich in histamine and some common food additives may worsen the condition, so it is completely normal that our specialist or medical team advises us against eating certain foods or limit our diet.
9. Are There Any Contraindicated Meds?
t is known that non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin can worsen the rash. In addition to this, opioids, and some hormone treatments might cause additional flares as well.
10. Is Stress A Factor?
YES. Stress can worsen the symptoms; what’s more, Chronic urticaria can generate a great deal of stress since it is hard to handle. This vicious cycle can be sometimes hard to break. Because of this, it is very important to educate ourselves on resources to manage our stress, no matter the origin; mindfulness exercises, light physical activity, and hobbies can help in dealing with stress.