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HIVES

Hives, which is also known as urticaria, is a skin condition characterized by an outbreak of raised, red, often itchy welts of various sizes on the skin. A similar swelling which causes large welts deeper in the skin is called angioedema. This condition occurs typically near the eyes and lips. Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a much more serious condition. It is an uncommon disorder that is inherited and can cause sudden, severe and rapid swelling of the face, arms, legs, hands, feet, genitalia, digestive tract and airway.

As many as 20 percent of the general population experiences acute hives or angioedema at one time or another in their lives. HAE affects only about 6,000 Americans.

Most cases of hives and angioedema are harmless and leave no lasting marks. The few cases of angioedema that are serious can be life-threatening if swelling causes a blockage in the throat or tongue which blocks the airway and leads to loss of consciousness.

Acute hives can last from less than a day to up to six weeks. Chronic hives last more than six weeks and can even occur for months to years at a time. Often, angioedema and hives occur simultaneously.

Hives are raised, red bumps of various sizes that appear and disappear on the skin which are often itchy and may resemble mosquito bites.

Angioedema is similar to hives, but it occurs deeper in the skin. Signs and symptoms of angioedema include large welts or swelling that may occur in the following locations:

- Near the eyes and lips (very common)

- On the hands

- On the feet

- On the genitalia

- Inside the throat

- Signs and symptoms of HAE include:

- Sudden and severe swelling of the face, arms, legs, hands, feet, genitalia, digestive tract and airway

- Abdominal cramping

- Difficulty or obstructed breathing

The lesions of hives and angioedema are the result of an inflammation in the skin. Sometimes hives and angioedema can result when certain cells that line the blood vessels in your skin called mast cells release histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream and skin.

Hives or angioedema can also be caused by allergic reactions to foods such as:

Shellfish, fish, nuts, eggs and milk are frequent offenders.

Or medications such as:

Antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and blood pressure medications.

Other substances that can cause hives and angioedema include:

Pollen, animal dander, latex and substances injected into your skin from insect stings.

Additional triggers that may produce hives or angioedema include:

Environmental Elements - Such as heat, cold, sunlight, water, pressure on the skin, emotional stress and exercise as they can result in the release of histamine with subsequent hives or angioedema in some people.

Dermatographism - Meaning "write on the skin." Swelling beneath the skin occurs when pressure is applied to the skin or the skin is scratched, raised lines appear on those areas due to histamine-based angioedema.

Hives and angioedema can sometimes result in response to the body's production of antibodies during certain situations such as blood transfusions, immune system disorders, such as lupus or cancer, certain thyroid disorders and infections, such as hepatitis A or B, or even a cold.

Hereditary angioedema is an inherited form of angioedema which is linked to low levels or abnormal functioning of certain blood proteins (C1 inhibitors) which play a role in regulating immune system functioning.

In cases where hives occur as a result of an allergic reaction to outside stimulus, the key is to identify the allergen and avoid its use. Common substances that cause hives include dairy products, shellfish, antibiotics, animals, barbiturates, aspirin, insulin, perfume, heat, hyperthyroidism, cold, sunlight, water, eucalyptus, fluorides, shampoo, food additives, insect bites, bismuth, makeup, menthol, penicillin, plants, saccharin and soaps.

Alcohol and all processed foods should be avoided as well.

The following supplements may also be helpful in the treatment and prevention of hives:

Acidophilus (take as directed on label) - Reduces allergic reactions.

Primrose Oil (1,000 mg twice a day) - Acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Garlic (take as directed on label) - Natural antibiotic that helps destroy bacteria.

Multivitamin and Mineral Complex (take as directed on label) - Corrects any deficiencies that may contribute to breakouts.

Quercetin (take as directed on label) - Reduces inflammation and reactions to substances that contribute to hives breakouts.

Vitamin B Complex (take as directed on label) - Necessary for healthy skin.

Vitamin C with Bioflavanoids (1,000 mg 3 times daily) - Acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Vitamin D3 (400 IU daily) - Reduces outbreaks.

Vitamin E (600 IU daily) - Improves circulation to the skin.

Zinc (50 mg daily) - Helps maintain a healthy immune system.

Alfalfa, bilberry extract, cat’s claw, Echinacea, nettle, sarsaparilla & yellow dock are all beneficial in treating hives.

Aloe Vera soothes burning and itching.

 

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