Ugly hives, terrible itching

A hives means for the allergist is always a challenge. Firstly, because very many different triggers for the symptoms to come into question, and on the other, because the disease occurs in different forms. External stimuli such as heat, cold or light can cause the skin to react in the same way as hormonal, viral, bacterial, or psychological factors. Also food and medications are common triggers. The hives is so complex, may be one of the reasons why in about half of acute and in two thirds of the chronic cases, neither the Affected nor their Doctors to find out what calls your discomfort.

The urticaria, as the Doctors call the disease is widespread, experts hold you for one of the most common skin diseases: according to studies, every fourth to fifth German suffers from addiction at least once in his life under a nettle. The acute Form occurs at least ten Times more common than the chronic and mostly in the first half of life. Even small children can be affected. Unlike an Allergy such as hay fever, the hives occur on searches today, but not much more than 30 years ago.

Since the hives may be very different, it is divided according to different viewpoints, for example, according to the course and causes:

One of the most unpleasant diseases

Hives is one of the most unpleasant skin diseases. The greatest torment of the itching causes – for the patients, he is often worse than the sometimes very disfiguring hives. You can’t sleep and can barely stay focused on your work, because you need to scrape all the time.

In the extreme case, there may be some forms of physical urticaria to circulatory shock. Anyone who is suffering from a cold hives and with cardiovascular reactions, shortness of breath, or angioedema on a stinging thrust to react, should always have an appropriate Emergency kit, and possibly an emergency this pass.


A hives often occurs very quickly: Within a few minutes, a limited site on the skin or the entire body is littered with surveys. Depending on the trigger for the hives to be very different in appearance: The skin swelling can be as small as a pinhead or larger than a palm of your hand, be whitish or reddish, at points or over a large area occur. They usually itch or burn and disappear at the latest after 24 hours, leaving no scars or other traces. Such a thrust may extend over several days or even weeks – new hives to come again and again. The reason: the skin’s own immune cells, called mast cells, release of the neurotransmitter histamine. The hives the decisive role.

Patients with hives often suffer also experience angioedema, a swelling of the deeper layers of the skin. Angioedema, occur in up to two-thirds of patients with chronic hives, usually together with wheal formation.

The nettle was the name of the godmother

Almost everyone has already come once with the hairs of a nettle and has experienced the following pain. Of this Plant the colloquial Name of nettle is derived addiction. Even in science, the Plant name was godmother: nettle is its Latin name Urtica. This results in the Urticaria or urticaria in medical language.

Nettle small tubes, which contain many active ingredients including formic acid and histamine are hairs. In case of contact with the top of the small tubes from the breaks. The hair now looks like a Mini-syringe needle, which can pierce through the skin and substances to inject. Then water seeps in the skin, the body swells and burning surveys: the hives.


Since the disease can have many triggers that are often only specialized skin doctors in the location, the individual symptoms of a certain hives. The main characters of the wheal is at first. In acute hives but usually subsided when the person sitting at the doctor’s. The wheal occurs more frequently or in spurts, is try the doctor to find the trigger, which requires a lot of work. With a hives-calendar or diary you have to support him in his search. At best, you run one of both, at least for a few weeks.

What are the diagnostic procedures Doctors use in each of the urticaria forms, you can find here:


The first step of treatment is to avoid the trigger consistently. However, it is not always possible to find the culprit at all. And if it is successful, however, it can be difficult to impossible to walk him out of the way, for example when it is to physical stimuli such as cold or heat.

In most cases, the messenger substance histamine is released from mast cells – the body’s own immune cells – the hives. Against histamine, called antihistamines help. The are well-tolerated Allergy tablets are not addictive. In the case of chronic hives Sufferers have to take which often for several months, through regularly looking.

Often, the number of Tablets is in this treatment is higher than on the package insert indicated. This is because the dosage is usually calculated for hay fever patients. The Standard dose is not enough, experts recommend to your colleagues an increase of up to four times the amount to treat the hives.

Also, this is not enough, the drug Omalizumab. The agent inhibits IGE, an important activator of skin mast cells. The drug is typically administered every four weeks using a syringe – until the Disappearance of the hives.

What other therapies Doctors use different forms of hives, you can find here:


The symptoms can be relieve by going to the possible triggers out of the way – if you know this or this is possible. In addition, a couple of tips in everyday life to help get the condition better in the handle.

Expert advice

Marcus Maurer, research Director at the clinic for dermatology, venerology and Allergology at the Berlin Charité University clinic, answers to your questions:

On my last injection in thrust, I had shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing. I need an Emergency kit?

Shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing occur when urticaria is very rare. More often it is an allergic reaction, with hives, can occur. Emergency kits can save lives. If the neck swells, the next Time strong and the airway is blocked, not create it, under certain circumstances, in a timely manner in the emergency room. Your Emergency kit is a liquid antihistamine should preparation, a liquid Cortisone and may also have a syringe with adrenaline. You can get the kit from your doctor and should learn under his supervision to use it. An emergency passport can also be useful. In it is stated, under which the Form of hives you suffer and what is to be observed in the case of an emergency. So patients with cold-urticaria only get pre-warmed infusions. Get you cold solutions into the veins, threatening a shock.

There is a genetic predisposition to hives?

So far, there is nothing to suggest that the hives is generally a hereditary disease. Several members are affected in a family, it is probably coincidence – the hives is very common. Only in the case of the cold-hives, there is a hereditary Form, but are very rare: so Far only about a dozen of the affected families are known.

A nettle has also psychological causes?

Such factors play at least in the case of physical hives usually no role. In the case of other forms, however, Affected to report that they had a wheal boost after they were very upset. Mast cells release at various events histamine, probably also of mental. Some studies have shown that can improve chronic hives for about by the use of Placebos, hypnosis, or psychotherapy.

Develop people with hives frequently other diseases?

This is only partially investigated. Urticaria patients seem to be more common auto-immune diseases, in particular of the thyroid gland. The reasons for this are not yet clear. If someone is suffering from addiction to nettle, he is statistically an increased likelihood to develop a mental disorder, such as anxiety disorder or Depression seen. Such Stress-Syndrome as a result of the burden of the urticaria. Hives patients frequently suffer from allergies than the average of the population. And they suffer just as often, infections like other people. The stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori contributes in Germany, for example, every second. But not everyone reacted with a wheal of thrust. There seem to be two things come together: A basic disease and a tendency to react to it with hives.

Are affected children from hives?

Significantly less frequently than adults – and most of those of the acute Form. There is in children, fewer cases of chronic hives than in adults. The physical urticaria occurs, addiction usually between the age of 20. and 30. Year for the first Time.

I’m pregnant and have hives. What should I look for?

Often the stinging is improving addiction during pregnancy. This is a good thing, because none of the effective drugs approved for use in pregnancy – the active agents could damage the unborn child. In pregnancy, the female body dampens the immune system automatically. Finally, it must tolerate a foreign body, the unborn child. The organism produces more cortisone, which also inhibits the mast cells. Therefore, the nettle runs addiction in Pregnant women is often less strong.

Why the hives worse for a short time before my menstrual period sometimes?

Mast cells are subject to hormonal influences – including those of sex hormones. During the cycle, these hormones vary greatly. Shortly before the menstrual period, the messengers of fire, the mast cells in the correct orientation and reinforce in some cases, an existing urticaria.

Sometimes it looks as if the hives would wander over my skin. Can that be?

The wheals are transient, and occur sometimes in quick succession, that disappears, and at the same time right next to it a new. The can look, as the hives would crawl over the skin or Hiking. In fact, it is so that a skin needs a break, before you can form a wheal. In your neighborhood the new hives can sprout freely.