Hives, also known as urticaria, are an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps, patches, or welts on the skin that appear suddenly -- either as a result of allergies, or for other reasons. Hives usually cause itching, but may also burn or sting. They can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat, or ears. Hives vary in size (from a pencil eraser to a dinner plate), and may join together to form larger areas known as plaques. They can last for hours, or up to several days before fading.
What Causes Hives and Angioedema?
Hives and Angioedema form when, in response to histamine, blood plasma leaks out of small blood vessels in the skin. Histamine is a chemical released from specialized cells along the skin's blood vessels.
Allergic reactions, chemicals in foods, insect stings, sunlight exposure, or medicines can all cause histamine release. Sometimes it's impossible to find out exactly why hives have formed.
Types of Hives and Angioedema
Acute urticaria and/or angioedema: Hives or swelling lasting less than six weeks. The most common causes are foods, medicines, latex, or infections. Insect bites and internal disease may also be responsible. The most common foods that cause hives are nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, fresh berries, soy, wheat, and milk. Fresh foods cause hives more often than cooked foods. Certain food additives and preservatives may also be to blame. Medicines that can cause hives and angioedema include aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatorymedications (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen), high blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors), or painkillers such as codeine.
How Can Hives Be Managed and Treated?
While you're waiting for the hives and swelling to disappear, here are some tips:
- Avoid hot water; use lukewarm water instead.Use gentle, mild soap.
- Apply cool compresses or wet cloths to the affected areas.Try to work and sleep in a cool room.
- Wear loose-fitting lightweight clothes.
When Should I Call the Doctor About Hives or Angioedema?
If hives or angioedema occur with any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor right away:
Dizziness,Wheezing,Difficulty breathing,Tightness in the chest,Swelling of the tongue, lips, or face
Treatment of Urticaria
What exactly causes is not absolutely clear but auto immune factor is supposed to be the most common trigger for chronic Urticaria. This means that body's own defense cells attack the cells of the skin to cause Urticaria symptoms. Food allergies, which are often thought to be the culprit ,are in reality not a common reason for chronic Urticaria. Chronic infections, drugs that are used in treating blood pressure and diseases like thyroid disorders often form a reason for Urticaria. A condition which is very commonly present in cases of chronic Urticaria is a Physical Urticaria. The symptoms of Urticaria are triggered by exposure to hot or cold environment, sunlight, physical exertion and pressure on skin. Many patients with chronic Urticaria have sensitive skin and develop raised red lines with any pressure or scratching of the skin.
Homeopathy provides an excellent solution for those who suffer from chronic Urticaria. Although the treatment can take time and it is only gradually that the patient can reach a stage where this problem can be completely cured. Two medicines that I would rank at the top, for treating Urticaria from its base are Sulphur and Astacus Fluviatilis.A Sulphur is a very important homeopathic medicine for treating chronic obstinate Urticaria, but remember it can be a double edged sword and should be used only under the directions of the homeopathic physician. Apis mel ( made from the bee sting) is another homeopathic medicine that is often used with great success in homeopathy for treating chronic as well as acute forms of Urticaria . It is also very effective in treating Urticaria where angio-oedema (swelling) is also present.