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Therapeutic alternatives for chronic urticaria: an evidence-based review, part 1.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the use of alternative therapies for chronic urticaria refractory to first-line treatments in an evidence-based manner.

DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE searches were performed cross-referencing urticaria with the names of multiple therapies. Articles were then reviewed for additional citations. Articles published after 1950 were considered.

STUDY SELECTION: All articles, including case reports, were reviewed for soundness and relevance.

RESULTS: Experience has been reported for a wide variety of alternative therapies in the treatment of chronic idiopathic and physical urticarias. Evidence for most agents is limited to anecdotal reports. The second-line therapies reviewed are also categorized based on criteria of safety, efficacy, convenience, and cost, in relation to the first-line antihistamines.

CONCLUSIONS: Alternative agents should be considered in patients with chronic urticaria who are both severely affected and unresponsive to antihistamines. Although monitoring for toxicity is important in management with many alternative agents, safety is favorable compared with corticosteroids.

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