Put simply, urticaria or hives can be classified by how long it lasts as well as what it is caused by. It covers several skin conditions that involve itchy red bumps that last between 1 hour and several days and are often accompanied by swelling in deeper parts of the skin (angioedema).1
Regardless of whether you have acute or chronic urticaria, if itch and hives are interfering with your quality of life, there are effective treatment options. For some of these treatments you need to be in the care of an immunologist or dermatologist. Speak to your GP about a referral to an urticaria specialist.
Classification of the different types of urticaria
Chronic urticaria means that the hives occur each day for 6 weeks or more.1 This type of urticaria is not due to an allergy and can be separated into:
- Chronic spontaneous urticaria – occurs randomly with no known trigger; it may be a result of an overactive immune system, an intolerance, an infection or another illness.2
- Chronic inducible urticaria – is caused by physical stimuli such as cold, sunlight, increased body heat, pressure or vibration.
Acute urticaria is defined by the presence of hives that last for less than 6 weeks. The causes can be known (such as allergies and infections) or unknown.1
Explore on this siteThe different types of hives (urticaria) Is chronic urticaria an autoimmune disease? What is urticaria multiforme?
Locate a specialistAustralasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) Skin & Cancer Foundation Australasian College of Dermatologists
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. ASCIA HP Position Paper Chronic Urticaria Guidelines 2020. Available from https://allergy.org.au/images/stories/pospapers/ASCIA_HP_Position_Paper_CSU_2020.pdf Accessed August 2021.
- Asero R et al. F1000 Research 2017; 6:1095.