Chronic idiopathic urticaria are hives with no known cause that last for an extended period of time. They can be painful and demoralizing, causing wheals or itching almost daily for six weeks or more. The word "idiopathic" means the condition stems from an unknown cause. Hives are usually the result of some kind of allergic reaction and the body is, in effect, seeing something as an enemy and reacting to dispel the intruder.
This disorder often baffles dermatologists, allergists, and other medical professionals. Without a known cause, it is nearly impossible to prescribe an effective treatment, which means that the patient continues to suffer. The skin often becomes scarred and otherwise damaged from the wheals and scratching. This condition can cause secondary depression because the sufferer is continually miserable, embarrassed by his skin, and pessimistic about ever being free from the disorder.
There have been some advances in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic idiopathic urticaria, however. Many medical professionals now believe this disorder is due to an underlying autoimmune disorder, such as lupus, in between 30 and 50% of those who suffer from it. The task then becomes to find out which autoimmune disease may be causing the hives and to treat that disease. In autoimmune disease, the body attacks itself, and so hives can be considered a logical symptom. Other types of urticaria can occur along with chronic ones, and since the treatments may be very different for each type, curing the patient can become difficult.
Many people with chronic idiopathic urticaria often try to eliminate sources of allergens from their lives. They may wash their clothes in a natural detergent, use only fragrance-free products, and try to eliminate food allergies as a possible cause for their condition. As long as this does not cause malnutrition, changing the diet may be helpful. Patients should use caution in trying natural or homeopathic remedies, however, because a compromised immune system could react badly to the compounds used in these preparations. As with hives caused by a known allergy, oatmeal baths and oatmeal-based lotions may provide some relief, without causing adverse reactions.
Those who suffer from chronic skin problems deserve sympathy and understanding. Their condition may be debilitating, and they may be unable to work or lead what most people would consider a normal life. Any help in making their lives a bit easier would probably be appreciated — even if it is just a better understanding of their condition.