What are Hives?
Since summer is soon approaching, there are a number of medical conditions that you must watch out for. One of the many conditions that are quite popular during the summer time is hives. I’m pretty sure this condition is familiar to you because you’ve heard it quite a few times. But do you really know what hives really is? Let me provide you with very vital and informative facts about this summer time disease.
Hives, also called “Urticaria” is a sudden outbreak which appears as inflamed and pale red bumps on a person’s skin. They are often very itchy and can vary in size. They can appear to be as small as a pea to as large as a dinner plate. They may also connect forming even larger areas. Hives can last up to 24 hours or even less depending on the type of exposure and your body’s natural reaction to that allergen trigger.
Hives can appear anywhere on a person’s body, such as a person’s face, lips, tongue, throat and even the ears.
What are the causes of hives?
Hives can be caused in response to histamine; Histamine is a type of chemical released from cells in our bodies along with the skin’s blood vessels. Causes may be the following:
- Insect bites and stings
- Foods such as fruits especially citrus fruits, eggs, milk and shellfish
- Touching something in which you may be allergic to such as latex
- Excessive exposure to the sun
- Contact with chemicals
- Pressure on the skin from prolonged sitting
- Allergy shots
- Other illnesses a person may have:
- infections caused by bacteria and funguses
- thyroid diseases, vasculitis and lupus
What are the types of allergens that can trigger this?
Allergens are usually the common causes of urticaria. So by staying away from the following, you can prevent future flare-ups.
- Different kinds of food. Strawberries promote natural production of histamine in the body, nuts, chocolates, eggs, milk, fresh berries, fish and tomatoes.
- Heat. Spending too much time in the sun can be another reason for hives. Summer is a common season in getting hives. Exercise can also fit under this category especially if you run during the summer time.
- Cold. Cold-induced hives may be caused when you’re in cold water. Even being exposed to cold objects or cold weather can cause this type of hives.
- Medications. Antibiotics, aspirin and Penicillin are the number one causes of drug-induced hives.
- Insect bites and stings. The venom from insect bites and stings can cause allergies in most people.
- Stress. Yes, stress can be a trigger for acquiring hives especially if it is chronic stress.
What are the symptoms of Urticaria?
- Slightly raised, pinkish to reddish inflamed areas on the skin
- Welts that may be seen in a single area or connecting to one another forming larger areas
- Itching is a common symptom
What are the different types of Urticaria?
- Acute Urticaria. This type lasts less than 6 weeks. They are usually caused from certain foods, medications and infections.
- Chronic Urticaria or Angioedema. Lasts longer than 6 weeks. This type of hives is more serious to the acute type, they are also called as “giant hives”. It can affect a person’s internal organs such as the muscles, gastrointestinal tract and also the lungs. Symptoms may be more severe like diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches and shortness of breath.
- Physical urticaria. This type is from direct physical stimulation on the person’s skin. Examples of physical hives are extremes in weather, sun exposure, pressure, sweating and exercise. This type of hives can appear within an hour after exposure.
How is urticaria diagnosed?
When you go to your healthcare professional, they may ask you many questions to arrive to the possible reason for your hives. Thoroughly medical history is needed since there is no specific test for hives. Skin tests may also be performed to find out what substance you are allergic to. Blood tests may also be done to determine if an infection is present.
When to call your doctor?
Symptoms of urticaria are usually not too serious especially during the initial phase. But if the following serious symptoms start to present it is best to contact your healthcare provider:
- swelling of the tongue, lips or face
- difficulty breathing
- tightness in the chest
Natural Remedies for Urticaria:
- Calamine lotion or witch hazel. These two astringents can help shrink a person’s blood vessels so histamine won’t leak out as fast. You can dab a small amount on the areas that are affected at least 2 to 3x a day.
- Aloe Vera. A very popular medicinal herb that has been used for centuries to treat many different types of skin conditions. Try aloe vera gel for your hives. You can purchase this type of gel at herbal stores near you. Apply a small amount of the gel to the affected areas and do it 3x a day.
- Pepto-Bismol. Like milk of magnesia and calamine lotion, it could also relieve the itching because it is also alkaline. Simply dab on a small amount on the affected area 2-3 x a day.
- A cool bath or applying cold compress. When doing this natural treatment, make sure that your hives aren’t cold-induced because it could make it worse. Anything cold can shrink the blood vessels and blocks the further release of histamine.
- Baking soda and water. All you have to do is combine in a small cup a few drops of water to a small amount of baking soda. Stir it around until it creates a paste. You can spread it on the affected areas to stop the irritation and relieve the itching. It is also an effective psoriasis natural remedy.
- Vinegar. Mix a teaspoon of any kind of vinegar with a tablespoon of water at lukewarm temperature. Apply the mixture to the areas with hives using a cotton ball to soothe itching.
- Brown sugar, ginger and vinegar. Boil one-quarter cup of brown sugar, a tablespoon of fresh ginger from the grocery store in three-quarters cup of vinegar for 10 minutes. After, mix it with half a cup of warm water. Apply this concoction on affected areas of the skin several times a day.
- Fish oil. You can try taking 1,000 milligrams of fish oil bought from any health food store around your area. Buy the capsule kind and take it 3x a day. Fish oil has components that have anti-inflammatory effects to a person’s body. You can also find fish oil in cold-water fishes such as salmon, albacore tuna and bluefish.
- Relieve stress. This is very important especially when you are always surrounded by stress. Try some nerve-calming methods such as yoga and meditation. You can enroll in classes that teach you the proper way to do those activities. Brewing a cup of warm tea is also a good idea to relieve tension. Chamomile, peppermint, catnip and valerian teas are a good example.
- Prevent allergen triggers. The best way to preventing hives all together is staying away from possible allergens to your body, especially the ones that you are aware of. Consult your doctor if you feel lost in the symptoms that you are feeling with your allergies.
The natural remedies mentioned above are the most popular, safe and effective treatments you could try out for treating your hives and its symptoms. If symptoms are mild, you could definitely try these out. But if symptoms are more severe, it is always best to consult your doctor about it to prevent serious complications.