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Urticaria – Stinging Nettle Rash

Stinging nettle rash, also referred to as urticaria, is condition that causes  itchy, reddish swellings over the skin which may appear as a result of contact with Stinging nettle. Urtica is a Latin word which means Stinging nettle.

Stinging nettle rash generally tends to be very itchy and varies in shape and size. It may vanish within 24 hrs and can either appear in many episodes or may occur only once

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Symptoms of Stinging nettle rash

Some of the signs and symptoms of Stinging nettle rash are listed below

  • It initially tends to develop as an itchy spot over the skin.
  • After few minutes, the weals develop into reddish blisters of various sizes over the area.
  • The Stinging nettle rash vanishes after two or three hrs and may resurface over a different spot.

The different types of Stinging nettle rash

Stinging nettle rash is differentiated as per the cause of the rash and on the condition of longevity and seriousness, as would be the cases of Stinging nettle rash which last for more than a month.

  • Chronic Stinging nettle rash: Chronic Stinging nettle rashes are more difficult to treat, needing prolonged periods of medications. Cases of a chronic Stinging nettle rash, which lasts for more than 6 weeks, requires the attention of a GP and possibly a dermatologist. This chronic form is generally not common. For 90% of chronic Stinging nettle rash cases, the cause for the symptoms are not known, and hence the condition is known as idiopathic urticaria. Substances like nickel or perfumes are mostly identified for the rest 10% cases. Even if a thorough examination fails to identify the cause of a chronic Stinging nettle rash, one need not to worry, as the condition tends to disappear by itself within 6 months. But certain cases may not respond to treatment and may continue for years.
  • Acute Stinging nettle rash: It is easier to identify cases of acute Stinging nettle rash, as the attack tends to begin immediately after contact with an allergen. The symptoms may develop within an hour of contact with the allergen and will continue to do so on every such occasion when the affected individual is exposed to that particular allergen. The acute cases last for 24 to 48 hrs and definitely not more than 6 weeks. The acute cases of Stinging nettle rash can be treated with home remedies and medicines, since the cause is known. In more severe cases one may consult a doctor. Children and the youth are prone to the repeated attach of Stinging nettle rash. There are two types of acute Stinging nettle rash, namely allergic and non-allergic (physical). Both are due to immunological reactions.
  • Hereditary  angioneurotic oedema: An inherited Stinging nettle rash may cause swelling around the eyes, hands and mouth. A specialist may be needed for treating the condition.

Causes of Stinging nettle rash

About 90% cases of Stinging nettle rash have no known causes, except a few cases. More or less it appears to be caused due to an adverse allergic reaction.

The symptoms of Stinging nettle rash may be triggered due to the following reasons:

  • Sometimes the food that you have such as nuts, eggs, seafood or strawberries may be the culprit that causes an allergic reaction
  • Allergic reactions to common medicines like antibiotic drugs, non-steroidal anti inflammatory (NSAIDs) and ACE-inhibitors
  • When you come into contact with pollen or fungal spores
  • Insect bites
  • Contact with some plants like Stinging nettles
  • Viruses, parasites or bacteria causing infections
  • Contact with some animals or creatures like stinging jellyfish
  • Perfumes, colorings, preservatives, nickel or tar like substances that can also cause the allergy.
  • Physical stimuli such as sensations of cold or warmth, sweating or pressure, sunlight or water

When the allergic reaction occurs, a chemical called histamine is released by cells of skin, that causes the blood vessels to dilate and become increasingly permeable, causing that fluid to seep into the skin.

Stinging nettle rash itself is due to a buildup of excessive secretion of fluid from skin (oedema). Such buildup of fluids may be followed by swelling in other body parts, in more severe cases.

The swelling of lips, eyes, tongue, hands, larynx  and genitalia results in a condition called angioneurotic oedema.

Treatment of Stinging nettle rash

Stinging nettle rash may be treated with the help of below mentioned medications:

  • Antihistamines are commonly administered either as tablets or injections to relieve itching, reduce Stinging nettle rash  from severe to mild and to finally make the rash disappear
  • Antihistamines is a good relief option for those who have sleeping problems as it can be used to cause drowsiness.
  • In rare cases it may become necessary to get treatment from a skin specialist who understands anti-allergy medications.
  • Steroids are normally given under the care of a specialist, for cases of hereditary angionuerotic oedema

Urticaria pictures

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