How to Get Relief from Hives

Allergy, Skin Conditions | September 4, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Skin conditions, allergy

How to Get Relief from Hives

Big, red itchy welts on your body…sounds terrible, right? Some people will get a one-off bout of hives but for some it can re-occur continuously causing extreme discomfort. Pharmaceutical antihistamines are usually the go to medication of choice but it’s not really resolving the underlying issue. So what are the underlying issues and what natural therapies can be used instead? Read on to find out.

What are hives?

HivesThe medical term for hives is urticaria.  They are red patches of slightly raised skin called wheals occurring on any part of the body, often in groups. Hives are usually very itchy and sometimes sting. Each wheal lasts only a few hours before fading to normal skin tone. However, new areas may develop as others dissipate. The affected areas can be small to covering the size of a dinner plate. 

Hives are common in both children and adults –  1 out of every four people will experience hives at some time in their life.

Due to the allergic nature of hives, people showing signs of severe reaction or anaphylaxis require immediate medical assistance

What causes them?

Allergic triggers

There are many different causes of hives, the main involving an allergic reaction. Common food allergens that cause urticaria include shellfish, eggs, nuts, spices, bananas, apples, oranges, potatoes, parsley, carrots, beans and food additives.

Allergic triggersOther allergic causes include insect bites and stings and a reaction to medications.

In all cases, these factors trigger the release of histamine, allowing the capillaries to dilate and blood plasma to leak into surrounding tissues. Hives is therefore considered an allergic reaction with the immune system responding inappropriately to a chemical that should be considered harmless.

Non-allergic triggers

Other triggers include emotional stress, heat, extreme cold, sweating, exercise, sunlight, water, pressure and friction. Hives may even occur due to elevated progesterone in pregnancy and during the menstrual cycle. It can also be triggered by sensitivity to Candida spp. The exact mechanism in which non-allergic triggers hives remains a mystery. However, there is still the existence of mast cells that release histamine with heightened sensitivity to environmental stimuli. Click Here For Article

How to get relief…quick!

Identifying triggers

Allergy testSometimes this is easier said than done as the identification process can be a bit tricky. Think about what you were in contact with before the hives began i.e. grass, trees, insects or sunshine. Were you stressed, exercising or experiencing an extreme ambient temperature? If food allergens are suspected a skin prick test through an immunologist may provide immediate answers. An elimination diet or keeping a food/lifestyle diary may help to draw connections.
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Low-allergenic diet

Eliminate identified allergens in the diet or even foods that aggravate it. Eating a low allergenic diet is an advantage and includes removing any processed foods and switching to low-reactive wholefoods. This involves eating plenty of low allergenic grains such as rice, rye, oats and barley with pears, peaches, apricots and plenty of fresh vegetables. Even though fish can be a potential allergen for some it is a rich source of omega-3 to reduce inflammation and an excellent source of protein. Low-allergenic nuts and seeds are a good source of vitamin E, omega 3 and niacin and could include a trail mix of almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and flax seeds.

Supplements that help urticaria

Vitamin DVitamin D

This essential fat-soluble vitamin has been found to be significantly reduced in people with chronic urticaria, with a higher proportion of critically deficient individuals compared to other groups. 

An inverse relationship with disease severity and duration was observed in the same study.

It has then been hypothesized that vitamin D deficiency could contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic urticaria and can be used as a predictive marker of disease activity. 
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Before supplementing it’s recommended that you get your vitamin D levels tested through your doctor.
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Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another vitamin that in essential for skin health, inflammation and to scavenge free radicals that cause damage. In one study it reduced histamine levels and another inflammatory mediator when tested with wasp-venom in vitro. In human studies, it has reduced serum IgE levels (high levels are associated with allergy) and associated itch. Although not specifically tested in people with urticaria it could be useful to reduce histamine and provide skin, capillary and antioxidant support.
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Vitamin C

Although no studies have been performed on vitamin C in urticaria, it can reduce blood histamine levels. Because of this it is commonly prescribed in allergies, particularly if there is skin involvement as it is needed for its repair.
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Quercetin

quercetinNaturally found in leafy greens, broccoli, berries, apples, raw red onion, wholegrains, beans/legumes and cocoa. Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant that reduces inflammation and the allergic response. It is recommended that you take 600mg three times a day for best results. Quercetin is commonly found with bromelain, an extract from pineapple which can reduce swelling and inflammation.  Amazingly Bromelain has been found to modulate the entire immune system, by reducing a hyperactive, over-sensitive immune system. Eating the fibre-rich core of a pineapple is the richest natural source of bromelain.
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Anti-allergy herbs

Although no herbs have been specifically tested on subjects with urticaria, there are some which have the proven ability to reduce histamine levels, reduce itch and skin inflammation. Feverfew, perilla and baical skullcap inhibit histamine release from mast cells during an allergic reaction.
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Aloe vera, licorice, chamomile and calendula have anti-inflammatory and soothing qualities which can be applied topically as a cream or taken internally.
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Other considerations

Choose natural fibre clothes such as cotton and wash in mild hypoallergenic washing powder. Minimise sun exposure and avoid strenuous exercise. Walking in cooler temperatures is an effective form of exercise to provide relief from stress.

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References

http://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Hives/

Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

Staubach P, et al. Patients with chronic urticaria exhibit increased rates of sensitisation to candida albicans, but not to common moulds. Mycoses. 2009 Jul;52(4):334-8

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18793264

Woo YR, et al. Vitamin D as a Marker for Disease Severity in Chronic Urticaria and Its Possible Role in Pathogenesis. Ann Dermatol. 2015 Aug;27(4):423-30

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26273159

Chirumbolo S. The role of quercetin, flavonols and flavones in modulating inflammatory cell function. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2010 Sep;9(4):263-85

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20887269

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