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World highlight on hives

Wednesday October 1st, 2014

Experts today call for more focus on the skin condition urticaria - also known as hives.

It causes a raised rash or patches called wheals, with extreme itching, and is often caused by allergic reactions.

Today (1 October) is the first World Urticaria Day, with the aim of raising the profile of urticaria and helping sufferers access good care and treatment. A new 'Understanding Urticaria' resource pack for patients is being launched by Allergy UK. The charity is also urging health care professionals to be more aware of the signs of this common but little known skin condition.

As many as one in five people will be affected by urticaria at some point, and half will have to wait over a year to see a specialist. It can last for months or even years, and have a bigger impact on quality of life than eczema, leprosy or alopecia, says GP and TV doctor Dr Pixie McKenna.

"Urticaria, especially in its chronic form, can have a devastating effect on people's lives through symptoms such as constant itching, an unsightly rash and facial angioedema which can be disfiguring," said Dr McKenna.

"People suffering from chronic forms of the condition really require specialist help so it's important that primary care teams consider urticaria when presented with skin conditions."

She explains that just 20% of urticaria has an obvious allergic cause, so 80% of sufferers cannot avoid the trigger of their urticaria.

"Research has shown that many health care professionals are not aware of all the available treatment options for people with chronic spontaneous ruticaria, and the first World Urticaria Day is a great opportunity to increase our understanding of this often disfiguring and disabling condition," she adds.

[World Urticaria Day]

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Dermatology | UK News | World Health

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