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Urticaria: current opinions about etiology, diagnosis and therapy.

In the last few decades an increasing understanding of the pathomechanisms involved in urticaria has highlighted the heterogeneity of different subtypes. According to the new European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology/Global Allergy and Asthma European Network/European Dermatology Forum (EAACI/GA(2)LEN/ EDF) guidelines, urticaria subtypes can be grouped into spontaneous urticaria, which includes acute urticaria and chronic urticaria, the physical urticarias, and other urticaria disorders, including, for example, contact urticaria. Clarity of nomenclature is required not only to choose the correct measures in diagnosis and management, but also to compare data from different studies. Urticaria has a profound impact on quality of life and performance. Effective treatment is thus required in all cases where avoidance of eliciting factors is not feasible. For symptomatic relief, non-sedating H1-antihistamines are the first choice in most subtypes of urticaria; however, double-blind controlled studies have shown that the dosages required may exceed those recommended for other diseases, e.g. allergic rhinitis. The current guidelines therefore suggest increasing the dosage up to four-fold, whereas alternative treatments should be reserved as add-on therapy for unresponsive patients.

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