Acute urticaria treatment, a systematic review

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There are only a few clinical trials which address the treatment of acute urticaria (AU). Especially, the added value of systemic corticosteroids to antihistamines is unclear in treatment of severe AU. To review the existing evidence-based approaches for AU treatment. A systematic electronic search was done in PubMed and Web of Science to retrieve all studies on the treatment of patients with AU. A descriptive synthesis was conducted based on the PRISMA statement. Quality assessment was independently performed by both reviewers ('Cochrane risk-of-bias tool' for RCTs). Ten randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (n = 857 participants) were included. Four studies assessed corticosteroid effectiveness added to antihistamines and six studies compared the efficacy of H1 and/ or H2 -antihistamines. The addition of corticosteroid (prednisone) to an antihistamine (levo)cetirizine did not improve symptoms of AU compared to antihistamine alone in two out of three RCTs. The combination of diphenhydramine (50 mg, IV) and ranitidine (50 mg, IV) or cimetidine (300 mg, IV) was most efficient for relief of urticaria in two out of five studies. Most frequent adverse effects were sedation and drowsiness. Recent guidelines on urticaria treatment mainly focus on chronic urticaria rather than on AU. Moreover, only few, small RCTs provide evidence for the management of AU. Thus, the state-of-the-art management of this frequent condition remains unclear. The addition of corticosteroids to an antihistamine as treatment for AU needs to be further investigated. Well-designed, high-quality interventional trials are needed to establish evidence-based treatment guidelines for AU.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Early online date29 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Feb 2024

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© 2024 European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.


  • Acute urticaria
  • treatment


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