Background Guidelines including level of evidence and grade of recommendation were recently published for chronic urticaria (CU).
Objectives To describe the therapeutic approach in patients with CU, and to depict how recent guidelines are implemented in the daily practice of management of CU.
Methods We performed a cross-sectional multicentre study through a questionnaire answered by 139 specialists. In total, 695 patients were evaluated, mean ± SD age 42·3 ± 15 years, 62·1% women. Of the patients, 168 were treated by an allergist, 473 by a dermatologist and in 54 cases the specialist was not stated. The drug prescribed was the main variable, and χ2 and Fisher’s tests were utilized for the statistical analysis.
Results Nonsedating anti-H1 antihistamines taken regularly were the most common drugs prescribed, followed by nonsedating anti-H1 antihistamines taken as needed, corticosteroids, sedating antihistamines taken regularly, sedating antihistamines taken as needed, anti-H2 antihistamines, leukotriene antagonists, ciclosporin and doxepin. Nonsedating antihistamines plus corticosteroids was the most frequent drug combination prescribed. When comparing between allergists and dermatologists we found a positive and significant correlation only between prescription of cetirizine, dexchlorfeniramine, leukotriene antagonists and anti-H2 antihistamines and being treated by an allergist. A positive correlation was found with desloratadine and being seen by a dermatologist. We did not find any difference in CU management in the rest of the treatments studied.
Conclusions It is surprising that a large amount of sedating antihistamines was prescribed. In many instances these were prescribed as needed. This fact could have a negative impact on urticaria control and patient satisfaction. It seems difficult for the nonexpert to differentiate between CU and any kind of physical urticaria.