Talk to a Doctor

CSU can be hard to diagnose and is best treated by a specialist like an allergist. If you think you might have CSU, talk to an allergist about your symptoms and options for managing CSU.

Doctor speaking to patient about CSU

An Allergist’s Perspective

Hear from allergist, Dr. Neeta Ogden,1 on recognizing signs of CSU, the journey to diagnosis and how a specialist like an allergist can help.

DR. NEETA OGDEN: CIU stands for Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria. (CIU, chronic idiopathic urticaria is also known as CSU, chronic spontaneous urticaria.) This is a skin condition characterized by hives, that can be severely itchy, and occur spontaneously. They last for six weeks or more, which is why it’s called Chronic. Idiopathic means we don’t know the cause of the hives, and Urticaria is a medical term for hives. CIU occurs in approximately 1.5 million people, it’s twice more common in women than men, and it tends to affect people between the ages of 20 and 40 years old.

Of every ten people who have chronic hives, at least seven of them have CIU. Because symptoms come and go without a known cause, people seek out triggers. This can include elimination diets, switching detergents, and other lifestyle changes. CIU can be hard to diagnose and treat. This form of chronic hives is best treated by a specialist like an allergist. An allergist is a specialist trained to diagnose, treat, and manage allergies, asthma, and immune system deficiencies that can affect different parts of the body. It’s important that you talk to your doctor about your experience with CIU. has resources that can help guide the discussion with your allergist. In close partnership, you and your doctor can manage your disease together.

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Schedule a virtual appointment with an allergist or find an allergist near you who can help diagnose your condition and create a treatment plan to address your symptoms.

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Learn About a Treatment Option for CSU

Tracking Your Symptoms

When you visit an allergist they will ask you questions about your symptoms, how long they have lasted, how you feel and any factors that may make your condition better or worse. Before meeting with an allergist, it is helpful to track your symptoms.
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Preparing for Your Appointment

Get the most out of your appointment by thinking about questions you might have in advance. Below is a sample of information to prepare. Download the full discussion guide so you know what to expect.

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Steps to Your Diagnosis

Getting the right diagnosis for your condition can take time. While every patient’s journey is different, here are some common steps you may experience according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Your allergist may perform tests to rule out other conditions. Once your diagnosis is confirmed, you will be on your way to finding the best treatment and care plan for you.

Investigating possible triggers

Symptoms persist

Repeated doctor visits

Confirm CSU diagnosis

Review treatment options

Join support groups

Monitor symptoms

Care from an allergist

Searching for Answers

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Vicki’s Journey

Actress and comedienne Vicki Lawrence,2 best known for her roles on The Carol Burnett Show and Mama’s Family, shares her story to help other patients like her who live with chronic hives. Watch as she shares her experience of finding a diagnosis and managing her condition.

Vicki Lawrence: So we went to our allergist that we’ve known for years. And he said, “Hives. Almost everybody breaks out in hives at one point or another in their lives.” It was six weeks of doing literally everything you could think of when the doctor said to me, “I think I’m going to diagnose you with CIU.” (CIU, chronic idiopathic urticaria is also known as CSU, chronic spontaneous urticaria.) And I said, “Okay, great. What is CIU?” He said “It’s Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria.” And I honestly thought it was such a mouthful, I was pretty sure he had probably made it up.

He said, “Chronic means that it has now lasted for six or more weeks. Idiopathic means that I can’t tell you why it’s happening.” And Urticaria is just like the doctor has to have a fancy word for hives. So my doctor, I was really fortunate that he was familiar with CIU. So we were able to put a treatment plan together for me that, that worked.

  1. Dr. Neeta Ogden was compensated for her involvement in the CSU and You campaign.
  2. Vicki Lawrence is compensated for her involvement as a spokesperson for the CSU and You campaign.

Learn more about managing CSU.

Living with CSU