Hives is a skin disease. It refers to a condition when red welts appear on the surface of the skin. These welts are often itchy and can be raised such that they will appear like bumps. Hives is also known as Urticaria in medical circles. Though Hives can be caused by non allergic causes, more often than not the causes of hives are allergic in nature. Indeed, hives that last for a short duration of time, usually less than five or so weeks is caused by allergic reactions and is simply referred to as acute hives or acute urticaria. On the contrary, chronic hives or chrionic urticaria usually lasts a longer period usually more than six weeks and are less likely to have been caused by allergic reactions.
Some of the causes of urticaria that are rarely experienced are pressure, induced friction, extreme temperature changes, sunlight and sometimes even exercise. Indeed, most cases of chronic urticaria have unknown causes. We refer to them as idiopathic causes, with most of the patients being autoimmune. When the chronic form of hive is as a result of viral infection, then we refer to it as viral exanthema.
Hives is often classified depending on its magnitude and cause. Apart from the acute and chronic hive, we have the drug induced type of hives, physical hives, hives caused by pressure or delayed pressure, cholinergic or stress induced hives, exercise induced hives or anaphylaxis and vibratory angioderma among many others. The drug induced type of hive is caused by allergic reactions from consuming drugs such as penicillin, anti-convulsants, aspirin, sulfonamides and suphonylurea among other anti diabetic medicines. Physican hives is caused by aggressive stroking of the skin, more commonly in medical terms as Dermotograhism. Luckily, the welts that appear on the skin due to physical abrasion usually disappear within one hour or so, even as quick as thirty minutes.
Causes of Hives
- The body usually reacts to allergies by production of chemical substances called histamine which are released into the bloodstream. The resultant itching of the skin followed by swelling is the major cause of hives. When the swelling is concentrated around the lips, eyes or the face then it is called angioderma.
- Certain medications are also known to cause hives. So many anti-diabetic medicines have been documented to produce these ill side effects on patients. A common victim is the sulphonyurea glimepiride that trades ass the Amaryl. Other common drugs are the dextroamphetamine, ibuprofen, aspirin, clotrimazole, sulfonamides, penicillin and the anticonvulsants.
- Certain foods are also a common cause of allergies leading to development of hives. Nuts and shellfish are specifically notorious for adult allergies. In children, peanuts, wheat, soy and even eggs can cause hives. A patient usually has only one food that can cause him or her allergies. Exposure to certain types of bacteria such as the Helocobacter pylori or the streptococcus is also a possible cause.
- Common physical allergens that cause hives include contact with animal dander, especially for dogs and cats.
Other causes of hives are;
- Reaction to water. This is aquagenic cause and is exceedingly rare.
- Reaction to body heat like a hot shower or after an intense exercise. This I referred to as a cholinergic cause.
- Chronic cold hives is caused by reaction to very cold substances, water or the weather. This kind of hives is much worse when the temperature change is sudden from normal to very cold
- As aforementioned, reaction to very aggressive skin scratching can also result to swelling and formation of the red welts that is called welts. This is a dermatograhic cause of hives.
Symptoms of Hives
The symptoms of hive usually manifest themselves on the skin as follows
- Appearance of raised areas on the skin that are surrounded by a red base to form bumps on the skin. These areas are called wheals.
- Skin bumps that are pale red
- When the wheals get bigger and larger, they by join to form an even larger flat raised section of the skin.
- Hive can show an unpredictable behavior. They may get bigger, change shape, spread, disappear and sometimes reappear within hours and sometimes within minutes. A true hive come and goes. When the wheal is pressed, it can change its color from red to white a process that is called blanching.
- Sometimes the fluid leakage happens from within much deeper blood vessel. This type of condition is referred to as angioderma. When individual hives are painful and ofen last for more than a day and they leave ugly bruises as they heal then the patient has a serious condition and we refer to this as urticarial vasculitis.
- Swelling of the throat. This can lead to blockade of the air passage hence chocking the patient
- An extreme manifestation of hives is when the whole body becomes allergic causing a life threatening difficulty in breathing. This is an extreme case of anaphylaxis.
Hives Home Remedies
Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself! Here are some of the Hives home remedies that you can try.
- Oatmeal- If you have some oatmeal around the home or could purchase it from the market, hives infection should be the last thing to work you up. Add one or two cups of fine ground oatmeal to your warm bath and your itches will be eased. Ensure you use warm water and not hot if you want the treatment to be effective.
- Herbal tea- Different strains of tea have for a long time proven to be credible herbal remedies for a number of conditions. The good news is that hives are not an exception to this. You can treat hives at home by easing stress with a few cups of herbal tea every day. Within a few days, the hives infections should have subsided.
- Aloe Vera- When it comes to the home treatment of skin conditions such as irritations, burns and sounds, not many herbs are as effective as aloe Vera. You should never let hives interfere with the smooth feel on your skin when you can access the herb. Applying the extract from its fleshy leaves to the affected area on the skin will soothe the infection in a few days.
- Baking soda- You can barely enter a kitchen anywhere on the globe and fail to spot baking soda in different forms. But how many people are aware that it is actually one of the most effective natural remedies for hives? To soothe itching, all you need to do is add a half or one cup of baking soda to your warm bath.
- Burdock- Scientifically known as Arctium lappa, burdock is one herbal remedy for hives you can always trust. This herb not only detoxifies the liver and blood but also works as a digestive stimulant and a diuretic. Most importantly, it plays a role in clearing lymphatic and cellular debris and thus reducing the swelling that comes with hives.
- Try not to Scratch the Welts– Avoid itching and scratching the welts. They could be spread to other parts of the body or they can form wound that are even more difficult to heal.
- Avoid Allergens– Hives that result from known allergies is the easiest to control. Simply avoid the allergens. If the cats or dogs are the cause then simply do not keep these pets. If your allergy is caused by fluctuations in body temperature then avoid hot shower or extremely cold baths.
- Try This– Also avoid wearing clothes over the affected skin areas. In case this is impossible then make sure that the clothes are not tight.
Diet for Hives
- First rule with hives is that one should avoid the foods that are likely to cause allergic reactions to you.
- In the treatment of chronic hives, a patient is usually subjected to an elimination diet which he or she is expected to adhere to strictly. This diet is usually managed by nutritionists and hence it does not restrict the amount of calories or food portion sizes. Rather, the list of foods, spices, drinks and even condiments that the patient is allergic to are excluded from the diet. If a patient adheres to the diet and the hives disappears. Then they will be reintroduced slowly.
- The foods that are commonly supposed to be avoided are dairy products, peanuts and related products, soybeans and shellfish among others.
- Meats can also be included on the elimination diet and the common culprits are wild game, turkey, duck, saltwater fish and organic chicken.
- Almost all vegetable are usually safe foods that do not lead to allergic reactions. The few that could be eliminated include tomatoes, corn, mushrooms, almost all types of potatoes, cayenne, paprika and other types of peppers and the eggplant.
- The elimination diet usually presents a myriad of challenges especially if it is difficult to adhere to the diet or avoid the foods that are included in the elimination diet. The patient, nevertheless, should remember that the combinations of foods on the diet dose are adequate for all your nutritional needs.
- A patient should look for substitutes for foods on the diet don’ts. For example, instead of consuming dairy products that could cause allergy, coconut milk, almond and rice can be consumed instead.
Prevention of Hives
- Investigate the causes of your hives condition and be determined in avoiding the substances. Some substances are so rare like the pollen, animal dander and avoiding them should be relatively much easier.
- One could keep a diary of what one has been eating. When buying something, check to confirm that any of the allergens do not appear in the list of ingredients.
- To relieve discomfort compression technique can be used. This is soothing the skin by use of smooth cool wet dressings.
- Bath in cool water, for example, you can add baking soda, oatmeal and other recommended substances in the water to help further reduce the discomfort.
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