Here is everything you need to know about urticaria, from symptoms to remedies, with the advice of the expert
Urticaria is a disorder that affects a considerable number of people, in a rather transversal way. According to the source Epidemiology of urticaria: a representative cross-sectional population survey (Clin Exp Dermatol-2010), the percentage of the world population that has at least one episode of urticaria in their lifetime is 15-20%, with an onset that it can be sporadic or chronic.
To get a correct diagnosis of urticaria and adequate therapy, it is necessary to rely on specialist medicine and avoid any kind of do-it-yourself treatment. In fact, only the specialist can prescribe any in-depth examinations to set the most effective and indicated therapy. To clarify the symptoms, causes and remedies of urticaria, we consulted Dr. Delia Colombo, Specialist in Dermatology.
- What is it and symptoms
- Remedies and treatments
What is it and symptoms
Let's start, therefore, with the symptoms linked to urticaria and the nature of this pathology. "Urticaria is a localized or widespread rash that manifests itself with redness, itching and raised bumps (erythematous, rounded or irregular lesions, of varying size)" explains Dr. Colombo. "At the origin of the disease, a massive release of histamine is recognized through mast cells (cells that play an important role in the immune system), which results in an inflammatory reaction. Urticaria can be acute (temporary) or chronic (lasting or relapsing) ".
As for the data, according to the Allergological Dermatology Service of the Polyclinic, chronic spontaneous urticaria (defined with the acronym OCS) would concern 1% of the population and most of the accesses to the service in charge.
Let's now go into the causes and mechanisms that trigger urticaria.
"Urticaria occurs when a stimulus causes a reaction of the immune system with the release of histamine and other mediators that regulate and control inflammatory processes (such as cytokines). This induces a dilation of local blood vessels, with a rapid swelling due to the transfer of fluids and proteins into the tissues. The swelling persists until the liquids are reabsorbed in the surrounding cells "explains the expert.
As Dr. Colombo points out, the process at the origin of urticaria may be the result of an allergic or non-allergic reaction: "the difference basically consists in the histamine release mechanism. Following exposure to an allergenic substance, histamine and other pro-inflammatory substances are released by mast cells, activated in the skin and tissues, in response to the mediated IgE reaction ".
Specifically, IgE or immunoglobulins E (IgE) are a type of antibodies that interact with the substance that causes allergy, releasing the mediators (primarily histamine) responsible for the symptoms with which the allergic reaction occurs.
Remedies and treatments
"In most cases, the skin symptoms of acute urticaria subside spontaneously within a few days. If the itchy symptoms are extremely troublesome, antihistamines are the treatment of first choice. These drugs, in fact, are able to inhibit the effect of histamine, thus reducing itching and erythema in the majority of people "explains Dr. Colombo.
In some cases, however, treatment with antihistamine drugs may not be enough. "In the most persistent cases and in very severe forms, the doctor may also indicate systemic corticosteroid intake. For chronic urticaria refractory to other therapies, a possible option is omalizumab, a monoclonal antibody that recognizes and binds to IgE produced in large quantities in allergic patients, also useful in the urticathioid reaction ", explains the expert.
When it comes to urticaria, reference to nutrition is inevitable. In fact, it is not uncommon for those suffering from this disorder to report the onset of symptoms following the ingestion of a certain type of food. But even in this case, any type of evaluation should be left to the specialist.
"Nutrition in urticaria plays an important role if the urticaria is allergic. There are many foods that can lead to developing urticaria, which is why rasts (specific IgE) are evaluated to consider their severity ", explains the expert.
Therefore, there is no generic food scheme to prevent or treat urticaria. As Dr. Colombo points out, "the ideal diet for those suffering from urticaria depends on the offending food, of course the stimulants of histamine release should be avoided".
Among the foods rich in histamine we find: wine (especially red), tomatoes (especially if preserved), all fermented foods, spinach, some aged cheeses, yeast extract (found in cooking nuts). The histamine-liberating foods, which stimulate the release of histamine and should therefore be avoided if you suffer from hives, include: chocolate, strawberries, tomatoes, alcohol in general, seafood, bananas, some types of fish and eggs.
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