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Definition of Urticaria

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Urticaria: Another name for hives. Raised, itchy areas of skin that are usually a sign of an allergic reaction. Hives can be rounded or flat-topped but are always elevated above the surrounding skin. They reflect circumscribed dermal edema (local swelling of the skin). The hives are usually well circumscribed but may be coalescent and will blanch with pressure.

The hives typically last less than 4 hours but an individual lesion may last for up to 24 hours and the whole process may stay for days or weeks. Approximately 20% of the population has experienced a bout of urticaria.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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