Hives may be the most puzzling skin condition of all. You have an outbreak of itchy, skin-colored bumps, and then they disappear after a while, and you’re left wondering what just happened. Hives are also known as urticaria, and can short-lived or chronic, in which they last for six weeks or more.
Hives can show up on any part of your body, and tend to move around and change shape fairly rapidly. They appear as flat bumps, or wheals, that are usually skin colored or red. Hives tend to be very itchy, and turn white when the center is pressed.
Most people assume that hives are an allergic reaction, and in many cases that’s true. When you’re exposed to an allergen, your body responds by releasing a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes tiny blood vessels, called capillaries to leak fluid that accumulates just under the surface of your skin, which forms a wheal, or hive.
There are a number of triggers that can produce hives, including food allergies, pet dander, pollen, some medications, latex, insect stings or bites, and bacterial or viral infections. However, there are some triggers for hives that aren’t necessarily allergens, which makes understanding the underlying cause more confusing. Temperature extremes or rapid changes, pressure on your skin, scratching the skin, constricting clothing, stress, and even sun exposure can cause hives. And sometimes the underlying cause of hives is not known.
Hives occur in about 20 percent of the population at some time or another. If hives occur as an isolated incident, it’s generally not a cause for concern. However, if hives become chronic, it becomes more important to determine the cause and take steps to treat it. In addition, when hives are a part of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, seek immediate medical attention.
Treatments for Urticaria/Hives
In many cases, urticaria may be treated with over the counter antihistamine medications. In severe cases, skin testing by an allergist or stronger medications may be prescribed. Many patients who struggle with chronic hives prefer to avoid medications and their side-effects and turn to more natural solutions for treatment. At BodaHealth we have a plan for patients with chronic hives that involves acupuncture, Chinese medicine, naturopathic medicine, and dietary therapy.
-Research studies show that acupuncture can be beneficial in treating the symptoms of hives, safely and without side effects. Scientists believe that acupuncture works to reduce hives because it may suppress the immune reaction that releases histamines into your blood stream. Acupuncture also helps to reduce inflammation, which may play a role in the histamine reaction that causes hives.
At BodaHealth, our acupuncture practitioners treat a number of dermatological and allergy-related conditions, and they are well-trained and experienced in treating hives.
–Chinese herbal medicine may be used in conjunction with acupuncture. Your practitioner will work with you to determine the underlying cause of your hives, as well as your diagnostic pattern according to Chinese medical theory. They will then choose a formulation of herbs best suited to your individual needs to regulate your immune response and address your symptoms.
-At BodaHealth, our naturopathic physicians help patients with hives in a number of ways. They are able to do lab tests, assess for food triggers, and rule out toxicities. Our naturopathic doctors may prescribe herbs, vitamins, and other supplements to address the cause of your hives. They may also propose nutritional and lifestyle strategies to help reduce the frequency and severity of attacks and treat the symptoms when an attack occurs.
-Because food intolerances and allergies are often the underlying cause of hives, nutritional therapy is also an important component in treating this condition when it becomes chronic. Therapy is aimed at reducing exposure to triggers, controlling the immune response, and reducing inflammation. In addition, some foods have a higher histamine content than others, so prescribing a diet that includes more low-histamine foods and avoids foods that are high in histamines can be an effective nutritional strategy. At BodaHealth, both naturopathic doctors and acupuncture practitioners are knowledgeable in nutritional strategies to help patients with hives and other allergy-related conditions.
The bottom line is that sometimes you may never know what caused a transient episode of hives. However, when hives becomes a chronic problem, your quality of life suffers, and it needs your attention. At BodaHealth, we offer safe, effective, and natural treatment options for hives. Find out how we can help you by contacting us today.