I suffer from eczema and Urticaria so I live in a world of itching. Recently the Urticaria has entered a new phase of awfulness. Hands, arms, chest, back and legs are all affected. It itches like crazy, means I can’t sleep, and am uncomfortable all day long. During my last visit to a GP I was told to ‘research’ Urticaria. So I did. I read lots about it; and found the NHS site quite useful. It’s called all sorts of things – nettle rash, hives, and the more medical Urticaria. Below is a summary of the most useful information I found and an update on what I’m doing to help control it.
So Urticaria is caused when a trigger releases high levels of histamine into the system; it often settles down in a day or so, but can last up to six weeks. If it goes on for more than six weeks it is counted as a chronic condition. Seeing as this has been going on for months, I guess I count as chronic.
It affects about 1 in 6 people at some point in their lives; women are twice as likely to end up with chronic Urticaria as men. Not surprisingly, it’s most common in people with a history of allergies.
Apparently the blood vessels open up and become leaky – hence the red, itchy patches. The extra liquid causes the swelling and little blisters that appear.
The cause can be anything:
- food allergy such as peanuts, shellfish, eggs and cheese
- environmental factors such as pollen, dust mites or chemicals and latex
- infections – bacterial
- insect bites
- physical triggers, such as pressure to the skin, changes in temperature, sunlight, exercise or water
There are lots of options for treatments. Anti-histamines of course, but I’m on those every day anyway. So a little research came up with the following:
The best anti histamine is called Rupatadine. I’ve just started taking it today so I’m hopeful it will help.
The GP also put me on a dose of antibiotics – I do a lot of water sports so we’re wondering if there’s something in the water that is causing problems (an ill-advised trip to a water park in Egypt caused sinus and eye infections so maybe something from there?) So a three day course of Zithromax has been prescribed.
Lots of lotions – now trying Dermol instead of Diprobase or Aveeno so see if that helps.
Finally I’m having blood tests – checking for rubber allergy, plus a host of other allergies to see if there’s something we’re missing. The NHS website :http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Nettle-rash/Pages/Treatment.aspx is a great resource. They list several other treatments – ranging from Narrow Band Light Therapy to new drugs such as Ciclosporin,Leukotriene receptor antagonists and Omaluzimab. They all have various side effects but are worth talking to your doctor about if you’re suffering and nothing is working. I’ve used oral steroids in the past – and they work. But it’s not a cure and I want to find out what’s causing it, rather than just treating it.
I seem to be on an ever increasing list of foods to avoid; apparently the following are all triggers for Urticaria so I need to avoid – but not cut out completely:
Foods that contain vasoactive amines or cause histamine release include:
Salicylates are naturally occurring aspirin-like compounds. Foods that contain salicylates include:
- orange juice
I’ll update on how the Rupatadine works. As you can see from the pictures above I’m suffering a bad outbreak at the moment so fingers crossed this can help. Of course they say stress can bring it on; so maybe I need to learn to meditate???? If you suffer, I’d love to know what you did that helped!