What is urticaria?
Urticaria is hives which means rash on your body. It is reddish wheals or welt bumps that appear on your skin. Urticaria is also known as Nettle rash. This condition mainly consists of wheal spots or patches of raised red and white skin, each of which clears away in few hours to be replaced by fresh wheals. The welts may vary in size and fade repeatedly as the reaction course sets in. It sometimes occurs together with swelling of various parts of the body typically the face, hands, and feet called angioedema. Angioedema is another skin condition and name given to the deeper swelling affecting the tongue mouth throat and upper airway.
Urticaria with angioedema may occur at a different time or together in the same person. It may occur in two forms. A wheel that is skin-colored or pale skin swelling usually surrounded by erythema or redness that lasts anything between a few minutes to twenty-four hours. It usually causes itching and burning pain in the skin. Angioedema is the deeper swelling within the skin and the mucous membranes. When hives last more than 6 weeks it is considered chronic. And when hives are without any cause it is considered idiopathic. Hives can be very uncomfortable interfering with sleep and normal day to day activities. Sufferers often don’t say anything at all they are too busy scratching which may lead to worsening of the situation.
What causes the rash?
Most of the time you cannot pinpoint the cause of the rash. Whatever is the cause your immune system senses as a hostile invader and kicks into overdrive mechanism. Tiny build vessels begin to leak protein-rich fluid and this causes a build-up of the fluid under the skin leading to red patches wheals and welts which results in excessive irritation of skin along with itching. The first line of defense is the skin.
There are two types of urticaria :
Acute urticaria: which lasts for the duration of up to less than six weeks
Chronic urticaria: which lasts for more than six weeks which episodic flare-up of wheals.
An outbreak that looks alarming the first thing in the morning can be gone by noon only to be back in full force later in the day. Because hives fluctuate so intensely and so fast it is helpful to bring along the photograph to a dermatologist for further evaluation. Hives appear when histamine and other compounds are released from the cells called the mast cells which are found in the skin. Histamine causes the fluid to leak from the local blood vessel leading to swelling of the skin. Hives are very common but not contagious.
Despite the reputation of hives being an “allergic reaction” there is an obvious connection of provoking substrate.
which means skin writing is a common cause of physical urticaria. This is an exaggerated form of what happens to someone when the skin is rubbed or scratched, a red velvet appears at the site of the scratch. In dermatographism, raised itch welt red skin with adjacent flares appears when the skin is scratched or where belts or another clothing rub against the skin.
Cholinergic hives: Another form of hives that produces hundreds of welts and itch after fifteen minutes of physical exertion. This kind of cholinergic hives is seen mostly in young people.
Theories: There are several theories among researchers which may lead to this condition of urticaria :
Autoimmune theory: In some patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria, the release of histamine from mast cells triggered by certain factors in the blood can lead to a process known as autoimmunity which is the theory behind urticaria. Although hives are associated with allergic reactions they can be triggered by :
- Medication: If you suspect any medication causing the urticaria as a side effect inform your doctor about the same
- Insect bites
- Eating shellfish, nuts, apples, and peaches
- Cold temperature: Temperatures change may cause the hives to trigger leading to the presence of wheals on the skin. It may cause dryness of skin which may lead to itching.
- Harsh soaps or detergents
- Underlying condition: Any kind of allergic reaction or underlying allergy can cause hives. In some cases, the hives may be due to thyroid disorder which is an autoimmune condition that needs to be treated.
- Pet allergies
- Hay fever
- An autoimmune disorder like diabetes type 1, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis.
- Identifying what’s triggering your rash is essential as it can lead to avoidance of Allergan.
Signs of severe allergic emergency may require care like
- Swelling of face or throat
- Difficulty in breathing
Signs and symptoms of urticaria :
- A rash which is raised swollen like hives with reddish velvety bumps
- Itching developed in the affected area of rash
- Selling of throat eyelids and lips (Angioedema)
- Heat exercise and stress may aggravate these symptoms
A confirmed diagnosis can be a feature of the skin condition as well as the symptoms. Also, a professional doctor will give you a blood test in the form of an allergy test to confirm the same.
Home remedies for urticaria: 20 steps to get rid of urticaria
Here are certain home remedies and steps that can help you in the long run especially for those who have red welts on the skin to prevent urticaria :
1) Take a bath with an anti-itch solution: You can sprinkle some baking soda in water and take bath with that which will help in relieving itching.
2) Avoid certain products that trigger itching :
Avoid certain triggers like body lotions with scents and alcohol. Opt for body lotion which are specially formulated for sensitive skin. Avoid certain products which are high on chemicals. Select natural and organic skin products. This will lead to less exposure to certain allergens and triggers.
3) Keep things cool.
Avoid sunlight and direct heat. Wear comfortable cotton loose clothing which helps your skin breathe. Keeping cool is important as heat worsens the itching. So keep your house with cool temperature and clean
4) Apply a cold compress:
Apply ice cubes to relieve your itch and the welt bumps and wheals.
5) Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a plant with healing properties. Apply aloe vera gel to the skin to relieve itching. It is a natural anti-inflammatory. Topical aloe vera gel and creams can also be used.
6) Take cooler baths
Taking a bath with cold water is effective. Do not take bath with hot water as it may lead to dryness and itchiness of the skin. It constricts the blood flow and cools the skin
7) Witch hazel
The natural tannins in witch hazel help you to relieve irritation and itchiness. Take some water boil it and add witch hazel to it. Prepare a concoction and make it effective for your skin.
8) Calamine lotion (Over the Counter Remedies )
Applying calamine lotion can be effective in treating itchiness. It is available over the counter as a topical application for the skin to relieve irritation and pain.
9) Stay calm:
It’s important to stay stress-free and calm when you get urticaria. Exercising every day, meditation, yoga can relieve it in the long run as stress triggers hives.
10) Vitamins supplements
It is important to take your supplements daily in case of this skin condition.
This will not only rectify your immune system but help in relieving the symptoms to some extent. Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, and omega that is a fish oil supplement would help to keep skin hydrated and healthy internally.
11)Use of hypoallergenic substances
Use mild soap and detergents that contain less harmful chemicals which may be irritant to the skin. A product that is tested for sensitive skin can be used.
12) Medication :
Hives may develop with sudden onset and spread rapidly if caused due to a medication. The medication needs to immediately stop if you have developed an allergy based on the medication. Your doctor might replace the medication in such a case. Almost any medicine can cause urticaria like painkillers, antibiotics, blood products, vaccination. Drugs such as ACE inhibitors used in the treatment of hypertension or high blood pressure can cause angioedema as a side effect.
13) When to see a doctor :
Chronic hives do not pose any immediate risk but may lead to problems interfering with your activities
But the sudden appearance of hives can be a sign of allergic reactions which could lead to anaphylactic shock. This serious condition can close off your throat and lead to difficulty breathing. Immediate intervention is necessary in those cases.
It is an unpleasant condition but not life-threatening. Treatment with a conventional line of treatment will clear it up but it may reoccur leading to relapse. It will resolve but it is impossible to predict when will it happen again,
If you develop hives in the throat or mouth, it is an emergency as it may block your airway.
14) Treat the allergy: Taking antihistaminic may help you to relieve itching but it is not a solution. Do not self medicate yourself. Consult a doctor if symptoms persist and lead to chronic urticaria.
15) Take photos of hives: When you see your dermatologist you may not have hives. It is important to take pictures of the hives so that you can track your symptoms.
16) Follow your treatment plan: Your dermatologist may prescribe you antihistaminics and you may take it off depending on flare-ups when necessary. You may continue to have hives in such a case.
Follow your treatment plan accordingly as set by your doctor. Do not be dependant on antihistamines
17) Track your record: Maintain a diary for your flare-ups and irritants and allergens which may cause it. Try to avoid the same in case it flares up.
The good news is hives can be controlled. Sometimes the treatment might take time to work.
18) Maintain a healthy diet: A diet good with nutrients and vitamins absorbed well by the body would help in the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle and immune system which helps in the long run
19) Moisturize your skin: Apply some moisturizing organic gel or coconut oil to keep your skin hydrated as dry skin can cause an increase in itching.
20) Use natural products: Using natural products for the skin can help patients with hives rather than using chemical products. The natural products improve the skin function barrier and goes well with skin rather than using anti-itch creams which just relieves the itching for sometime
Hives can be relieved with antihistaminics (over the counter drugs) but may cause relapse and recurrence. Hives can be treated but need time and patience. Follow these 20 steps and get rid of urticaria by managing it well.