One in twenty people are affected by Urticaria at some stage in their lives. It often appears like an attack of mosquito bites.
Twice as many women as men get Urticarial.
Urticaria is acute if it continues daily or almost daily up for six weeks (this pattern maybe seen with association with infections or allergy) or chronic if it lasts for six weeks or more.
What is Urticaria caused by
In most cases the cause is not found. Urticaria appears when a specialized cell in the skin called the mast cell that include histamine. In chronic Urticaria, the mast cell is stimulated to do so by your own immune system.
Autoantibodies of the body wrongly see the surface of the mast cell as foreign and react with it. The mast cells are then stimulated to release histamine and other irritating substances that are released into the skin, leading to itching and hive. It is now possible to detect these autoantibodies against mast cells in approximately half the patients suffering with chronic Urticarial. If autoantibodies are present there is no need to search another explanation for the Urticarial.
In the remaining patients with detectable autoantibodies the cause of Urticaria often remains unknown but, in a few cases, maybe due to chronic infections or metabolic disorders.
It should be noted that allergy is hardly ever a cause of chronic Urticaria.