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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Urticaria and infections

Bettina Wedi*, Ulrike Raap, Dorothea Wieczorek and Alexander Kapp

Author Affiliations

Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

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Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 2009, 5:10  doi:10.1186/1710-1492-5-10

Published: 1 December 2009

Abstract

Urticaria is a group of diseases that share a distinct skin reaction pattern. Triggering of urticaria by infections has been discussed for many years but the exact role and pathogenesis of mast cell activation by infectious processes is unclear. In spontaneous acute urticaria there is no doubt for a causal relationship to infections and all chronic urticaria must have started as acute. Whereas in physical or distinct urticaria subtypes the evidence for infections is sparse, remission of annoying spontaneous chronic urticaria has been reported after successful treatment of persistent infections. Current summarizing available studies that evaluated the course of the chronic urticaria after proven Helicobacter eradication demonstrate a statistically significant benefit compared to untreated patients or Helicobacter-negative controls without urticaria (p < 0.001). Since infections can be easily treated some diagnostic procedures should be included in the routine work-up, especially the search for Helicobacter pylori. This review will update the reader regarding the role of infections in different urticaria subtypes.