Urticarial Vasculitis Cause

Urticarial Vasculitis Cause – What is the Etiology of Urticarial Vasculitis?

Urticarial comes from the latin word meaning nettle which is known for its stinging and rash producing characteristic on the skin. Vasculitis means inflammation of the blood vessels. Hence, Urticarial vasculitis means irritating stinging rash on the skin (hives) where the blood vessels near the skin is inflamed.

There are two different types of urticarial vasculitis. They are Hypocomplentemia and Normocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis.

Hypocomplentemia urticarial vasculitis is when rashes or hives appear anywhere in the body and hence is systemic. This is usually caused by a systemic disease like a virus or an autoimmune disease.

Normocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis is when the hives are more localised. That is, the rashes or hives appear in a specific or small area. This is usually caused by connective tissue disease or local injury/damage.

What causes urticarial vasculitis

Unfortunately, the majority of urticarial vasculitis cause is still relatively unknown (idiopathic). That is, there is currently no exact cause of this condition. According to a recent Allergy and Immunology journal, 50 to 70 per cent of urticarial vascuilitis cases have an unknown cause. Research is still ongoing for the exact mechanism how this condition is caused.

But, there are certain processes, diseases and drugs that can specifically cause uticarial vasculitis.

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Here is what can cause Urticarial Vasculitis:

Autoimmune diseases

In a recent American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2009) review, 35 to 55 per cent of urticarial vasculitis sufferers are believed to be caused by an autoimmune disease in which the body owns immune system attacks its own cells causing inflammation. For instance, diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erthematosus (SLE) and Sjogren Syndrome produce antibodies immunoglobulin A and immunoglobulin M which the immune attacks causing connective tissue inflammation.


Medication can also cause this condition. Most commonly, Penicillin and ACE inhibitors can cause a severe allergic reaction which can result in the skin appearing with hives and wheals due to inflammation. Fluoxetine, Cimetidine, diltiazem, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and potassium iodide can contribute to this urticarial vasculitis.


Viruses can cause systemic inflammation in the skin and superficial (surface) blood vessels. For instance, infectious mononucleosis, hepatitis B and C can cause urticarial vasculitis.

Viruses such as infectious mononucleosis (which is a virus that infects B lymphocytes in the blood) affects the whole body (systemic). This results in having the body to fight it which causes an immune response which results in generalised inflammation in the body. One of the most prone areas that is affected is the small blood vessels near the skin which get inflamed and cause vasculitis. Hence, viruses which causes systemic inflammation such as infectious mononucleosis can cause urticarial vasculitis.

Viruses causes Hypocomplentemia urticarial vasculitis where hives or rashes can appear suddenly anywhere in the body.


Infection can contribute to utericarial vasculitis cause. According to a recent 2009 study in the journal of Allergy and Immunology, upper respiratory infections and syphilis contribute up to 12 per cent to the cause of this condition. The infection causes inflammation and damage to the superficial blood vessels of the skin. They also tend to be more localised and hence are typically categorised as Normocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis.

Fortunately, these wheals, rashes or hives tend to have a shorter lifespan and tend to range from 12 days to 3 months to resolve.


Up to 8 per cent of urticarial vasculitis is contributed to cancer or malignancies. Breast and ovary cancer tend to feature highly to have wheals appearing on the skin.