Nettle Rash & Swellings – Urticaria and Angio-oedema

nettleallergy2Acute nettle rash also known as hives or urticaria, is a very common condition that affects up to 20% of the population at some time in their lives. Itchy red blotches/wheals in various shapes and sizes can occur anywhere on the body. Episodes can be both dramatic and alarming.

Urticaria can be associated with large swellings, (angio-oedema) which commonly involve the lips, the area around the eyes, tongue and hands. Occasionally angio-oedema occurs without urticaria and in this instance it is important to take a careful history and do blood tests to exclude associated conditions.


In some individuals, the acute urticarial episode settles in a few days but in others it becomes chronic and rashes and swellings persist for months/years, unless there is appropriate specialist intervention. Although a true allergy may not be involved, specialist advice is often needed for this dramatic condition to exclude external triggers such as food and to recommend optimal drug therapy and investigate background issues.

Professor Powell was the lead author on the British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Guideline on Chronic Urticaria and Angio-oedema (2016) and this can be accessed via the BSACI website – Guidelines.