Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria: The Devil's Itch

Sarbjit S. Saini, Allen P. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Chronic urticaria is defined as the presence of urticaria for a period exceeding 6 weeks, assuming symptoms for most days of the week. It is divided into chronic inducible urticarias and chronic spontaneous urticaria, previously termed chronic idiopathic urticaria. The latter designation emphasizes that patients can experience urticaria independent of any exogenous stimulus even if one can define circumstances that may worsen symptoms. A search for such an external “cause” is fruitless because the underlying abnormality is “intrinsic,” whether it is autoimmune, or some unknown process. Approximately 40% of patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria report accompanying episodes of angioedema, whereas 10% have angioedema as their primary manifestation. In most cases, it is a self-limiting disorder, persisting for 2 to 5 years in most cases, although 20% of patients suffer for more than 5 years. The treatment that has evolved is largely empiric, based on double-blind, placebo-controlled studies whenever possible, but is not yet targeted to any particular pathogenic mechanism. In this article, we review the current status regarding pathogenesis, discuss the diagnostic workup, and update the approach to treatment including consideration of published guidelines, our own experience, and guideline updates that are being prepared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1106
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Chronic urticaria
  • Pathogenesis
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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