Urticaria or hives or nettle rash ( resembles the sting of a nettle), as it is generally called, is a common skin disorder, characterized by localized swellings on the skin. This itchy rash, usually last for a few hours before fading away.
When urticaria develops around loose tissues of the eyes or lips, the affected area may swell excessively causing pain and discomfort. Although scary in appearance, the swelling goes away in 12 to 24 hours with right treatment.
The disease may be acute, chronic, or recurrent.
What are the symptoms of urticaria?
Red or white patches on the skin -
The initial symptoms are raised red and white patches on the skin, which is accompanied by a burning sensation, intense itching, and stinging. Do not rub or scratch the patches, as it will aggravate the condition. These weals may fade in a few minutes or an hour in one place, but may again appear in another.
Fever, digestive upsets-
These disorders last from a day or two to a week, though recurring attacks may take place at varying intervals
What are the causes of urticaria?
The most probable causes of acute urticaria are:
- Allergy to pets, latex or foodstuffs such as nuts, eggs, chocolate, shellfish, dairy products.
- Insect bites, especially bee, wasp, bedbug stings, mosquito bites
- Emotional excitement
- Digestive disorders like irritation in the digestive tract or toxemia.
- Reactions to certain antibiotic, anti-inflammationary medicines such as aspirin, penicillin.
- Viral infections.
- Vaccines and blood transfusions
Causes of chronic urticaria is difficult to recognize, and often it goes unidentified. Possible causes include:
- If you have had an attack of urticaria once, any reaction or allergy can trigger it again at any place. Triggers can be as simple as a sun allergy, or a new clothing.
- Blood pressure drugs, stress
- Exposure to heat, sweat, cold, sunlight, or even pressure applied on to the skin.
- Chronic medical conditions like thyroid dysfunction, cancer also provoke urticaria.
- It can run in the family – genetic predisposition.
Urticaria treatment -
The best treatment for urticaria is to identify and avoid the cause and any aggravating factor.
Doctors prescribe anti-histamines for immediate relief of symptoms. Antihistamines, when taken orally, take about an hour or so to relieve a rash. They work best if taken on a regular basic to prevent the eruption of urticaria. To avoid side-effects like drowsiness, heaviness, non-sedative antihistamines are often taken side by side.
Elimination diets are not of much help unless a particular food allergen is suspected.
Grandma’s home remedies for urticaria –
Urticaria can be very easily cured at home by the use of some simple grandmother’s tips.
Salt is beneficial when urticaria is accompanied by digestive disorders. Intake of salt water induces vomiting, and gives relief and help in curing eruptions.
Turmeric acts as a strong antiseptic. The usual dosage is to take two teaspoons of turmeric powder mixed with a cup of water daily.
Rose water and vinegar -
Rose water in vinegar is useful if there is severe itching on the weals. This mixture if applied locally to the affected part gives immediate relief.
Helps in relieving itching.
Is there any specific diet in case of urticaria?
Go for a well balanced nutritious diet -
A well balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts, whole grains, green vegetables and fruits. The emphasis should be on fresh fruits and raw vegetable salads.
Water and lemon intake should be increased -
A patient suffering from urticaria must drink a minimum of eight glasses of water daily. A glass of water containing the juice of half a lemon may be taken one hour before each meal and between meals. This helps cleanse the system of toxic materials and also stimulate quick recovery.
Go for an all fruit diet –
Doctors often suggest an all fruit diet for at least five days as the best way to begin treatment for urticaria at home. To follow this, one must take three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits such as oranges, apples, pineapples, grapes, and papaya. He must not forget to drink lots of water along with this to cleanse the system.
Food to avoid -
Try to avoid tea, coffee, caffeine, alcohol, meat, poultry, white sugar, processed foods and all foods which are difficult to digest and would put a strain on the digestive tract.
Some other useful tips for urticaria treatment -
Exposure to fresh air and sunlight
Fresh air and sunlight is very essential for the treatment of urticaria. It helps the weals and blisters to heal fast.
Hot epsom salt bath
To be taken at least for 10-20 minutes, three times a week, the bath is prepared by dissolving one kilogram of commercial Epsom salt in an ordinary bath of hot water. No soap should be used with the Epsom salts bath.
How to prevent recurrent attacks of urticaria?
Urticaria is not a frightening disease. If proper preventive measures are undertaken, the disorder can be kept in control. Some useful preventive measures are-
- Keep the skin cool and clean, take baths with lukewarm water and avoid any strenuous exercise.
- Avoid medications containing aspirin, penicillin, quinine.
- Keep skin well moisturized, so as to avoid itching. Hypoallergenic creams are a better option.
- Low dose antihistamines can be used short-term for acute cases.
What is Raktmokshan or blood-letting?
Raktmokshan is an ayurveda method used to draw out a certain amount of toxic blood from the body. This helps in detoxifying the blood, thus helping mainly in various chronic skin diseases.
Often leech is used to suck out the impure blood from the affected area. Blood-letting is done to eliminate toxins from the blood stream causing various chronic skin disorders like urticaria, eczema etc.