Holy Cow, What’s Up with This Rash?!
You wake up one morning, roll out of bed, walk into the bathroom, and look in the mirror. Uh oh—something’s up with your skin. There’s a strange red rash creeping up your chest, and a tingling feeling along with it.
The non-stop itching can leave you exhausted. You are unable to enjoy your favorite things. You suffer month after month and find you are losing hope of ever getting better.
What’s going on? Unexplained skin changes can be disconcerting, not to mention seriously uncomfortable. But should you be worried? What could be the possible causes of your skin situation?
Maybe It’s Hives or Angioedema?
Hives, officially called idiopathic urticaria, are a red, raised itchy skin rash. Hives are not caused by a virus. Hives appear as red, raised bumps called welts or wheals that can vary in size and pop up anywhere on the body; if you press down on the center of one, it will turn white.
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 one day before fading.
Angioedema is similar to hives, but the swelling occurs beneath the skin instead of on the surface. Angioedema is characterized by deep swelling around the eyes and lips and sometimes of the genitals, hands, and feet. It generally lasts longer than hives, but the swelling usually goes away in less than 24 hours.
What Causes Hives and Angioedema?
The simple answer is that you have an overactive immune system. Your immune system “freaks out” when it meets specific allergens such as dust mites, medicines, food, or other environmental triggers (sunlight, cold temperatures) according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI). Other possible causes are stress and infection. Sometimes, the cause is unknown.
Identifying what triggered your rash is crucial. If you can identify the trigger, you can avoid contact with it and prevent more hives from forming.
How to Treat Hives and Angioedema?
The best treatment for hives and angiodema is to identify and remove the trigger, but this is not an easy task. Chronic hives may be treated with antihistamines or a combination of medications.
Antihistamines (such as cetirizine or fexofenadine) are usually prescribed by your doctor to provide relief from symptoms by reducing the rash and stopping the itching. Antihistamines work best if taken on a regular schedule to prevent hives from forming in the first place.
Some antihistamines cause drowsiness, especially if the user also consumes alcohol. Some are not suitable during pregnancy unless prescribed by a doctor.
Patients with angioedema may need to see an allergist, an immunologist, or a dermatologist. Angioedema can cause potentially serious breathing difficulties.
Home Remedies for Hives
In most cases, home remedies are all you need to find relief. Here are a few ways to soothe your itchy skin:
This may include:
- abstaining from or cutting down on alcohol
- avoiding certain medications
- avoiding stress, if possible, perhaps with meditation or relaxation techniques
- choosing some soaps, skin creams, and detergents that are mild.
Avoiding certain foods may help. Foods known to trigger histamine production include spinach, fish, yogurt, fish, tomato, processed, meats, chocolate, and strawberries.
Tips to reduce the irritation caused by hives include:
- wearing loose, light clothing
- avoiding scratching
- use soaps for sensitive skin
- use a shower, fan, cold water, lotion, or cool compresses to cool the area
- take an oatmeal bath with tepid water
- avoid known triggers
- applying a cold compress (which can be a bag of frozen veggies or a handful of ice in a tower) on your skin
Some sources recommend supplements such as quercetin and evening primrose oil, and vitamin C, D and others. It is important to speak to a doctor before using supplements, as these can trigger adverse reactions.
Keeping a record of flareups can help identify a trigger.
Natural Remedies for Hives
If home remedies aren’t relieving your symptoms, you may want to give a few natural solutions a try. Natural remedies typically aren’t regulated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so use with caution.
The following are 2 options:
The natural tannins found in the herb witch hazel can help relieve irritation. You may want to prepare your own witch hazel mixture to use as an astringent to maximize the tannins.
To do this:
- Add 5 to 10 grams of witch hazel bark to 1 cup of water.
- Mash the bark up.
- Pour the mixture into a pot.
- Bring to boiling and remove from the heat.
- Strain the mixture.
- Let the mixture cool before application.
You can apply this to your skin like a mask a few times each day. Let it sit on the affected areas for about 20 minutes, and then rinse off.
Aloe vera is a plant known for its healing properties.
Although it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, it may cause contact dermatitis, so it’s important to do a skin patch test before application.
To do a skin patch test, simply apply a small amount of the product to an unaffected area of skin. If you can, apply to the inside of your forearm. If you don’t experience any irritation within 24 hours, it should be safe to apply to any hives.
You can apply topical aloe vera to your hives as needed, likely a few times a day. Be sure to follow any instructions on the package.
If home and natural remedies aren’t enough to help your hives, over-the-counter (OTC) treatments may be your best bet. Not only can OTC options relieve itching and irritation, they can target your body’s histamine response, which is what causes hives to appear.
Products containing calamine can help relieve itching by cooling your skin. You can apply calamine lotion directly to your skin:
- Make sure you mix the lotion before using it by shaking the container.
- Put some calamine lotion on a cotton pad or cloth.
- Apply the pad or cloth directly to the hives and let dry.
You can treat the hives with calamine lotion as necessary.
For more tips to get rid of hives and angioedema, watch these 3 videos-
When to See a Doctor?
Hives generally fade within 24 hours and don’t require treatment. If your symptoms worsen or last longer than a couple of days, see your doctor.
However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- swelling in your throat or face
- difficulty breathing
These may be signs of a severe allergic reaction and require emergency care.
By Dr. Gary M. Levin, who creates the Natural Urticaria & Angioedema Treatment program. Based on his long term studies and research, he comes up with some tested and proven methods for treating hives and angioedema.
He believes the root cause of hives and angioedema is an overactive immune system. The healing process is done by using a simple step-by-step method that rids you of all types of urticaria and angioedema diseases. In his step-by-step treatment system, you’ll learn how a healthy, natural drink available from any grocery store, plus a special vitamin regimen, will completely rid you of your current skin condition.
The vast majority of people who use his treatment method see a major improvement within just a few short weeks. If you have suffered from a skin condition for more than a year it may take you more time to clean and reset your body but the results are almost always the same.
To find out more about this program, click on Get Rid of Hives and Angioedema