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Variants of mastocytosis can present with puzzling cutaneous and systemic symptoms and signs that can result in an erroneous diagnosis of idiopathic urticaria or idiopathic anayphylaxis. The molecular basis of mastocytosis is now better understood, with updated classification based on distinct growth factor and oncogene abnormalities. Elicitation of a full history and careful attention to the skin examination will usually provide the clinician enough information to deduce that the condition is not simply chronic idiopathic urticaria.

This article was presented at the American College of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA, November 6, 2005.