What is Urticaria?
Urticaria or hives is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or plaques on the skin that appear suddenly, either as a result of our body's reaction to certain allergens or for unknown reasons. Allergic reactions lead to the release of a protective protein named histamine. Tiny blood vessels known as capillaries leak fluid as they come in contact with histamine. The fluid accumulates under the skin and causes a rash.
It usually causes itching but may seem like a burn or sting. Hives may appear on any part of the body which includes the tongue, lips, face, throat or ears. They vary in size and may join together to form larger bumps known as plaques. These hives may last from a few hours to a day before fading. Hives affect around 20 per cent of people at some point in life.
Types of Urticaria
Urticaria results information of various kinds of hives:
- Acute urticaria: it includes hives lasting less than six weeks. The main causes include certain infections, foods or medicines used before. Insect bites and several internal diseases can also result in acute urticaria. A number of food items like fresh berries, milk, tomatoes, fish, eggs, nuts, and chocolate may result in the formation of hives.
- Angioedema and chronic urticaria: These hives last for more than six weeks. It is more difficult to identify the cause of this type of hive. It is very difficult to determine the cause of chronic urticaria for most people. In some cases, thyroid, hepatitis infection and cancer may also be the cause of urticaria. Angioedema and chronic urticaria also affect other internal organs like muscles, lungs, and the gastrointestinal tract. Other signs include diarrhoea, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and soreness in muscles.
- Physical urticaria: These kinds of hives are the result of physically stimulating processes like exercise, sweating, pressure, sun exposure, heat, cold, and humidity. The hives often occur exactly where the skin was changed and hardly appear elsewhere. The hives under this category start appearing within an hour after the physical change.
- Dermatographism: It is the most basic kind of urticaria in which hives appear due to stroking or scratching the skin.
Diagnosis of Urticaria
The doctor will ask many questions in an attempt to find the possible cause of urticaria. Since there are no specific tests for hives, the associated swelling or angioedema, the examination will depend on your medical history and a thorough exam by your primary care doctor or dermatologist. A skin test is needed to find out the allergen to your skin. Routine blood tests are also performed to test the presence of system-wide illness
Causes of Urticaria
Doctors haven’t identified the exact cause of chronic hives. There may be several reasons for an outbreak of urticaria hives on the skin:
- Pain medications, including some antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ACE inhibitors, used for high blood pressure.
- Insects or parasites
- Infection, including influenza, the common cold, glandular fever, and hepatitis B.
- Heat or cold
- Alcohol or food
- Things that put extra pressure on the skin like tight dresses, corsets, and tight waistbands.
Signs and Symptoms of Urticaria
Utricaria symptoms include the following:
- There may be seen skin or red-coloured welts which appear anywhere on the body.
- Welts may vary in shapes, size, and appearance. They fade continuously as the reaction changes its course.
- Severe Itching.
- Painful swelling of the lips, eyelids and inside the throat.
- Painful swelling in various parts of the body like inside the throat, eyelids, and lips.
Urticaria Treatment in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, urticaria skin disease is called ‘Sheetapitta’. It is a vitiation of Kapha and Vata Dosha (water and air element) that occurs when a person gets exposed to cold air. It also causes the aggravation of pitta dosha (fire) which spreads into the rakta dhatu (blood tissues). Rakta dhatu is vitiated due to excess pitta. Then aggravated doshas relocate in the skin, which results in urticaria (Sheet pitta).
Temporary relief is possible with conventional medicines like steroids and antihistamine, however, they do not promise permanent relief. Ayurveda has the power to treat the root cause of the disease and provides the holistic treatment. There is a complete range of urticaria ayurvedic medicines that work to treat the underlying cause of urticaria. Although the treatment is a bit long term ranging from 3 to 5 months, urticaria can be completed cured with this treatment. The course of treatment also includes Panchakarma therapies like virechan, vaman, raktamokshana, and Basti
- Vamana - Vamana is one of the five therapies of Panchakarma that includes therapeutic vomiting. It helps in the expulsion of excess Kapha dosha out of the body. The treatment is done for the aggravated Kapha dosha, which dislodges the toxins mainly from the respiratory, gastrointestinal tract and skin diseases.
- Virechana - This process is used to pacify the pitta aggravation by cleansing the lower pathways of the body. Give virechana 3 days after Vamana. It is mainly used for people who find it hard to go with Vamana therapy.
- Basti - Basti may be useful in providing relief to the lower body. The oil used in this method can also be used for oral ingestion along with the application at the target region before repositioning it manually.
- Raktamokshana – This method is used to cause bleeding of impure blood by inflicting cuts at particular points of the body. It is a therapeutic cleaning process and one of the essential parts of Panchkarma healing treatments. Raktamokshana is one of the finest techniques of blood cleansing.
Home Remedies for Urticaria
There are some home remedies recommended along with the Ayurvedic treatment. But please note these remedies only work on relieving the urticaria symptoms but do not treat the problem by root/
- Take approx. 10 ml ginger juice with a teaspoon of jaggery every morning. It will stop the repetition of urticaria.
- Administration of 2 grams of turmeric powder twice a day for two weeks.
- Take a quarter teaspoon of powdered black pepper and add some crushed spinach leaves to it. Apply this paste over the hives for quick relief from itching.
- The application of mustard oil provides relief by reducing itching.
- A tried and tested home remedy is rubbing the affected area with house ash (chulhe ki rakh)
- The inflammation and irritation caused by hives can also be controlled with the regular application of aloe vera gel.
Preventions and Lifestyle Changes for Urticaria
Certain causes that trigger the disease which can aggravate symptoms, so patients should try to identify and avoid them and modify their lifestyle changes.
This may include:
- Wear loose, light clothing.
- Avoid scratching or using harsh soaps.
- Cold baths, compresses, lotions, and anti-itching creams are known to be quite soothing in the case of urticaria.
- Note down the timing or occurrence of hives and what kind of specific activities may have lead to it.
- Avoid known triggers.
- Use honey rather than sugar.
- Avoiding certain medications.
- Apply sunscreen before going outside.
- Use soaps for sensitive skin.