By Neepa Sevak
Urticaria is the medical name for “Hives” or “wheals”, which is a common skin condition. The wheals can be a few millimeters or several centimeters in diameter, colored white or red, usually itchy, swollen and can appear in groups. Each wheal may last a few minutes or several hours, and may change shape. Wheals may be round, or form rings, a map-like pattern, or giant patches. Urticaria is an indication that the whole body is experiencing a Hypersensitivity reaction. Hives may or may not be accompanied by swelling of eyelids, lips, hands or others parts of the body. This swelling is known as “Angioedema”.
Types of Hives
- Acute Urticaria: are hives lasting less than six weeks. The responsible causes for this type of Urticaria are foods, drugs, infections, insect bites, pressure, cold, sunlight or some internal diseases.
- Chronic Urticaria: are Hives lasting more than six weeks. The cause of this type of Urticaria may be the same as Acute Urticaria or may be idiopathic that is unknown.
Causes of Hives
Urticarias are shaped when the cells in the skin called mast cells release histamine, a chemical that causes tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to leak fluid. When this leaking fluid accumulates in the skin, it appears as small swellings that we classify as Urticaria or Hives. The common triggers in everyday life that can cause histamine release are listed below.
- The most common foods that cause Urticaria are nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, fresh berries, and milk. Fresh foods cause Urticaria more than cooked foods. Food additives and preservatives may also cause Urticaria.
- Firmly rubbing or scratching the skin can cause Urticaria.
- Cold-induced Urticaria appears when a person is exposed to sudden low temperatures for example, after a plunge into a swimming pool or when an ice cube is placed against the skin.
- Hot showers.
- Excessive sweating.
- Sun exposure.
- Almost any prescription or over-the-counter medication can cause Urticaria. Some of those drugs include antibiotics like penicillin, pain medications like aspirin, sedatives, tranquilizers, diuretics, diet supplements, antacids, vitamins, eye and eardrops, laxatives, vaginal douches, etc.
- Flu vaccine, tetanus toxoid vaccine.
- Many infections like common cold, strep throat, infectious mononucleosis.
- Worm infestation.
- Alcohol (it causes the surface blood vessels to dilate).
- Nervousness or emotional stress.
- Insect stings.
- Constant pressure of constricting clothing such as sock bands, bra straps, belts, or other tight clothing.
- New perfumes, detergents, lotions, creams, or clothes.
- Contact with nickel (eg. Jewellery), rubber (eg. Gloves, elastic bands), latex, industrial chemicals, nail polish.
- Vigorous toweling after a bath.
- Animal dander.
- Idiopathic – where the cause cannot be found.
Symptoms of Hives
- Severe Itching affecting your sleep and work.
- Redness of the affected part.
- Swelling of the surface of the skin into red or skin colored welts (called wheals) with clearly defined edges. The wheals may enlarge, spread, and join together to form larger areas of flat, raised skin. When you press the center of a red wheal, it blanches (turns white).
- Swelling of the eyelids.
- Swelling of the airways causing wheezing.
- Airway obstruction.
- Anaphylactic shock in rare cases where a person can develop a respiratory obstruction and lose consciousness.
Homeopathic Approach to Hives
Urticaria should be regarded as an external signal of the internal system dysfunction and accordingly, should be treated with thorough assessment of the entire human system. Homeopathy offers an excellent treatment for Urticaria. According to Homeopathic principles skin affections are usually an expression of an internal disorder as a result of lowered vitality and immunity and are therefore not treated only with external applications. Homeopathic medicines work towards eliminating the basic sensitivity to develop such a lesion using internal Constitutional remedies. This approach not only successfully treats Urticaria but also removes the tendency to this Hypersensitivity. Homeopathy believes that suppressing a symptom at the skin level with local applications or conventional medicine may cause the original imbalance to express itself in another more important internal organ, hence homeopathy uses a “holistic, individualistic and totalistic” approach and its remedies cure by enhancing the immunity level of an individual. After taking homeopathic medicines, the texture of your skin will also improve.
Prevention of Hives
- Identify and eliminate the precipitating cause, including drugs, foods, acidic fruits, stress, or an underlying infection or illness.
- Cover all parts of your skin before going skating or sledding in winter to avoid cold exposure to skin.
- Gradually get in the pool on a hot summer's day, rather than diving right in.
- Avoid activities that make you sweat a lot.
- Avoid sun exposure by wearing protective clothing and applying a sun block lotion when going outdoors.
- Do some deep-breathing exercises, and try to relax in order to avoid mental stress and nervousness.
- Loose-fitting clothing will help relieve pressure Urticaria.
- Avoid harsh soaps and frequent hot baths to reduce the problem of dry skin, which can cause itching and scratching that can aggravate Urticaria.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco.
Time has come that every health-conscious individual recognizes the scope and role of homoeopathic science for day-to-day problems. When other systems of medicine fail to work effectively, and if you want to live with natural, safe, gentle, non-toxic, effective and rapid acting medicines, you should think of homeopathy. Hence, to relieve the symptoms of Urticaria consider homeopathy.