Background: Urticaria is a disorder affecting skin and mucosal tissues characterized by the occurrence of wheals, angioedema or both, the latter defining the urticaria-angioedema syndrome. It is estimated that 12-22% of the general population has suffered at least one subtype of urticaria during life, but only a small percentage (estimated at 7.6-16%) has acute urticaria, because it is usually self-limited and resolves spontaneously without requiring medical attention. This makes likely that its incidence is underestimated. The epidemiological data currently available on chronic urticaria in many cases are deeply discordant and not univocal, but a recent Italian study, based on the consultation of a national registry, reports a prevalence of chronic spontaneous urticaria of 0.02% to 0.4% and an incidence of 0.1-1.5 cases/1000 inhabitants/year.
Methods: We reviewed the recent international guidelines about urticaria and we described a methodologic approach based on classification, pathophysiology, impact on quality of life, diagnosis and prognosis, differential diagnosis and management of all the types of urticaria.
Conclusions: The aim of the present document from the Italian Society of Allergology, Asthma and Clinical Immunology (SIAAIC) and the Italian Society of Allergological, Occupational and Environmental Dermatology (SIDAPA) is to provide updated information to all physicians involved in diagnosis and management of urticaria and angioedema.