Have you developed red bumps or weals on any part of your body? Are you frustrated with itching and painful swelling developed on your affected parts? If you nodded along in agreement, then you might be suffering from urticaria or hives. So, you must be curious to learn what urticaria is all about, what its symptoms are, and how you can treat it, aren’t you? Read on to discover all about it.
Hives or urticaria are nothing but red elevated, swollen patches or weals developed on the skin that appear suddenly either as a result of the body’s reaction to certain allergens or due to unknown reasons.
Hives are usually associated with itching, burning, or stinging sensation. Urticaria can appear anywhere on the body. Its size varies from a tiny pea to a giant weal, and sometimes the weals may join together to form larger plaques. The typical lesions of urticaria may last for a few minutes to an hour, and some may last even longer. Some patients may develop the eruptions once in a while, and some individuals may suffer from it many times during the day. Urticaria may be restricted to a couple of spots in some patients, while some may have widespread rashes appearing for days or even months together.
Different Forms Of Urticaria:
- Acute Urticaria: Some people experience urticaria for a short period of time and it goes away with or without any major treatment. This is known as ‘Acute urticaria’.
- Chronic Urticaria: For a few people, urticaria is recurrent where hives appear again and again. When new outbreaks of hives occur almost every day for 6 weeks or more, then it is known as ‘Chronic urticaria’.
- Angioedema: In Angioedema, swelling develops under the skin in the deep tissues. The swelling may occur around the eyes and lips and, sometimes, there is swelling of genitals, hands, and feet. Usually, it lasts for a longer period of time than hives, but the swelling subsides in less than 24 hours. In some people, angioedema of the throat, tongue, or lungs can block your airways making it difficult for you to breathe.
- Dermatographism: Dermatographism is hives that develop after firmly stroking or scratching the skin.
Urticaria: The Inner War
Certain allergic and non-allergic causes can make you suffer from chronic urticaria.
The non-allergic causes of chronic urticaria include stress, auto-immunity problems, hormonal issues, drugs, exercises, temperature, and similar other factors.
Allergic causes of chronic urticaria include food allergens; environmental factors, such as exposure to the pollen, house-dust, buffalo dander, fungi, change in temperature etc; and the use of personal products, such as deodorant, perfume, talcum powder, cosmetic products, animal derivatives, and similar synthetic substances.
Allergen acts as antigen and body produces antibody against that. There is a release of histamine from the mast cells when antigens and antibodies (IgM or IgG) combine to activate the immunological reaction (Hypersensitivity reaction). Histamine has the property of causing vessel dilatation (vasodilation) swelling, itching, pain, and rash.
Treatment Options For Urticaria:
In the conventional treatment, anti-histamines offer symptomatic relief from urticaria. The effect of antihistamines stays for a short period of eight to ten hours, and you need it almost daily if you are suffering from chronic urticaria. Similarly, even though cortisone acts instantly in alleviating urticaria, it is known for being habit-forming. Also, it has its own tendency of side-effects and increasing your dependency on it. Chronic urticaria cases, which are dependent on the use of anti-histamines and cortisone, are more difficult to treat quickly than rest of the cases of urticaria.
As urticaria is an immunological disorder, its treatment needs to target the correction of the patient’s immune system in such a manner that urticarial hypersensitivity is taken care of and the patient’s body does not react adversely like the way it reacts to urticaria. Homeopathic medicines act in a way which helps your body’s healing mechanism correct the immune system, thus, in turn, they treat urticaria from within. Effects of homeopathic medicines for the treatment of urticaria are long-lasting instead of a temporary relief.
Along with well-selected homeopathic medicines by an expert homeopath, certain lifestyle changes can help in preventing the recurrence of urticaria. Here are some healthy lifestyle changes that can help prevent urticaria.
- First, figure out the trigger for your urticaria and make sure you strictly avoid it.
- You need to avoid stress-causing situations, follow a new way of thinking, and nurture different attitude to keep your stress at bay.
- Practice meditation, yoga exercises, and deep breathing on a regular basis.
- Avoid exposure to an extreme of temperature.
- Discuss diet with your doctor and follow it regularly.
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-Written by Dr. Aparna, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah