Urticaria

Paediatric Urticaria Treatment

What Is Urticaria?

Also known as welts or hives, urticaria is a common skin condition that consists of itchy pink or white raised areas of the skin, resembling a nettle rash. It can appear anywhere on the body and is usually round or ring-shaped.

It is estimated that one in five people will be affected by urticaria at some point, with children being the most common sufferers. With paediatric urticaria, there can also be swelling around the eyes, lips, face, and hands. It is uncomfortable, and it can look alarming, but it mostly lasts a few hours and does not usually lead to other allergic symptoms. 

Types Of Urticaria

There are several different types of paediatric urticaria, including:

  • Acute urticaria
  • Chronic urticaria
  • Physical urticaria
  • Papular urticaria
  • Cholinergic urticaria
  • Solar urticaria
  • Dermatographic urticaria 

Acute urticaria

This is the most common type and generally passes within six weeks. It is often caused by the child’s immune response to a viral infection and is typically found on the face, toes, neck and fingers. 

Chronic urticaria

Chronic urticaria will typically last much longer. It can be very difficult to pinpoint the cause, but it may be linked to diseases such as autoimmune conditions or other issues with the immune system.

Physical urticaria

This is when urticaria is caused by a physical stimulus, such as being exposed to heat, cold temperatures or pressure and vibrations.

Papular urticaria

This is caused by an insect bite and is common in children. Bed bugs, mosquitoes, fleas, or scabies are the typical culprits.

Cholinergic urticaria

This occurs when your child’s body temperature changes rapidly, whether it’s because of exterior temperatures, such as a bath or shower, or a sudden onset of anxiety. This results in red patches of skin surrounding tiny hives. 

Solar urticaria

Solar urticaria is a rare allergic reaction to the sun’s rays. Rashes or hives occur on any areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun. The more skin that has been exposed, the more severe the reaction will typically be.

Dermatographic urticaria

This form of urticaria is one of the most common types, affecting around 2-5% of the population. This skin condition occurs as a reaction to scratches on the skin. However, it does tend to disappear quickly and doesn’t usually result in more serious symptoms. 

Urticaria Causes

Just as there are many different types of urticaria, there are many different causes of it. Hives form when the body feels like it is under attack from a foreign substance. When it notices that a foreign organism is present, the body releases histamine defend itself. That causes plasma to leak out of the blood vessels, creating visible patches of red raised skin.

It is estimated that there is no discernible cause in up to half of the cases of hives out there, but the most common causes tend to be infections, allergies or physical stimuli. Stress can also be a cause in certain cases. 

Symptoms Of Urticaria

Urticaria most commonly presents as a raised patch of red skin, big or small, and they can form rings with or without a pale centre. They may resemble mosquito bites, but they can also blend together to create a large blotch. Do not be surprised if they change shape or disappear and then come back again. Paediatric urticaria is usually itchy. It may also cause swelling around the lips, eyes, feet, or hands and can understandably make young children irritable.

Complications Of Urticaria

While many urticaria symptoms will disappear relatively quickly, it can cause complications in some cases that you will need to be aware of:

Anaphylaxis

In rare cases of acute urticaria due to food allergy can lead to anaphylaxis. This is an extreme and life-threatening allergic reaction that may cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Pale or lethargic 
  • Inability to swallow or struggling to breathe
  • Persistent cough

If not treated, anaphylaxis can be fatal. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, therefore, it requires treatment in hospital as soon as possible. Always call 999 for an ambulance if someone is suffering from anaphylaxis, even if they start to feel better.

Angioedema

This is a severe swelling that occurs under the skin’s surface, and it happens due to a build-up of fluid. You may notice this swelling around the lips, eyes, feet or hands, or genitals. Antihistamines usually help to bring it down, but steroids may be required.

Mental health

If your child is suffering from chronic urticaria, you may notice an emotional element. The sustained physical discomfort will have an impact on their mood, and it is common for people with this condition to suffer from anxiety, depression, and stress. 

Allergy Tests For Urticaria

If your child is suffering from urticaria, it is always a good idea to have them tested for allergies as soon as possible. There are different ways that urticaria can be diagnosed, and one of the most simple and effective techniques is an allergy test. An allergy test is a very simple procedure which merely scratches the skin without piercing or puncturing it. A small number of possible allergens are placed onto the skin, and then the skin is scratched to see if the skin reacts to the drops. 

The test is quick, and the results should be back in a few days. Having a diagnosis will help you to ensure that any risk factors are avoided in future, and Children’s Allergy Doctors can help you. We offer careful and accurate assessments, specialising in allergy diagnosis and management.

Urticaria Treatment

The best paediatric urticaria treatment for your child will depend largely on the type of urticaria that they are suffering from. The treatment will vary depending on the severity as well. Mild urticaria can be treated with medications such as antihistamines, which will soothe the skin and reduce the body’s reaction if your child suffers from anaphylaxis.

Management Of Urticaria

You may not be able to prevent your child from suffering from urticaria, but there are several things that you can do to minimise the risks and manage the condition. Avoid triggers and use over-the-counter antihistamines if your child has a pollen allergy during the summer. Relaxation techniques can help if stress is a trigger, and look for soaps, skin creams and detergents that are mild and fragrance-free. It is so important that your child carries an EpiPen if they need one. 

You should also get a diagnosis and work with an allergy doctor to help your child manage their condition. The team at Children’s Allergy Doctors is here to help you through the entire process. Book an appointment today to talk to one of our experts. We also have a wealth of resources to help you to understand this condition better.