Sunday, 29 August 2010

My Itchy Rashes Called Urticaria

I have Urticaria.  Yes I do have.  Well it’s not really considered medically serious yet it really is very irritating and annoying most of the times.


What is Urticaria?  Urticaria is another term for Hives. www.Medicinenet.com defines it as ‘are red, itchy, raised areas of skin that appear in varying shapes and sizes.  They range in size from a few millimeters to several inches in diameter. Hives can be rounded or flat-topped or they can form rings or large patches but are always elevated above the surrounding skin. Wheals (welts), red lesions with a red “flare” at the borders, are another manifestation of hives. Hives can occur anywhere on the body, such as the trunk, arms, and legs.’


Remember Will Smith in Hitch- the scene with his swelly face?  That’s urticaria at it’s extremes, good for him it only lasted for a few hours.  My urticaria most of the time comes in a noticeable dark red, raised, very itchy bumps that comes out of nowhere and for some reasonS  that most of the time it disappears after a few hours and sometimes lasts for weeks (!!!)  The funny thing about hives is that they appear on a part of your body then disappears and then again appear on a different part.  Sometimes I would wake up swollen with hives then it suddenly disappears the moment I get to the doctor’s clinic. 


I’ve been suffering from on-and-off urticaria since I was small (maybe I had  inheritted it from my mama)  but it worsens when I get here in Singapore (because usually, my urticaria only lasts for a few hours but now, it persists for 2 months!!!)


What causes Urticaria?  According to the website of the national skin center of Singapore (www. nsc.gov.sg) ‘Urticaria results from some changes in the small blood vessels of the skin. Such changes are brought about by the release of some substances in the body, the commonest of which is histamine. Histamine is released from cells called mast cells by either an allergic or non-allergic reaction.’

Some hives are allergic reactions to foods, medications, insect bites, and exposures to chemicals.  Most of the time, hives are also caused by non-allergic triggers like physical irritation, stress, or emotions.


Here are some “kinds of urticaria” (courtesy of Wikipedia and www.Medicinenet.com)

  • Acute urticaria  - are hives that last for a few hours to a few weeks (6weeks atmost).  Triggers are allergic reactions to foods, medications, insect bites, and exposures to chemicals.
  • Chronic urticaria – are hives that persists for 6 weeks or more.
  • Drug-induced urticaria – are usually triggered by drugs

  • Physical urticarias are hives produced by direct physical stimulation of the skin and often categorized into the following.
    • Aquagenic: Reaction to water (exceedingly rare)
    • Cholinergic: Reaction to body heat, such as when exercising or after a hot shower
    • Cold (Chronic cold urticaria): Reaction to cold, such as ice, cold air or water – worse with sudden change in temperature
    • Delayed Pressure: Reaction to standing for long periods, bra-straps, elastic bands on undergarments, belts
    • Dermatographic: Reaction when skin is scratched (very common)
    • Heat: Reaction to hot food or objects (rare)
    • Solar: Reaction to direct sunlight (rare, though more common in those with fair skin)
    • Vibration: Reaction to vibration (rare)
    • Adrenergic: Reaction to adrenaline / noradrenaline (extremely rare)

For the treatment of urticaria / hives, please refer to www.Medicinenet.com.


Why am I posting this?  First of, Well, it’s helpful for me to better understand what I am dealing with in order for me to better manage such condition – my condition.   Over-the-counter antihistamines, itch-creams, a bath, cold, and hot compresses sometimes help relieve the itching, temporarily.  Most of the time, they do not help at all.


I had a chronic urticaria, just recently – a 2month old urticaria on my legs (yes I waited almost 9 weeks to consult with a doctor-that was on Aug 21, 2010)  Here’s the medication that I was given to  treat my urticaria and t’was effective, i’d say that:


- Atarax 25 mg. tablet (1 tablet taken every night for 10 days) – this causes drowsiness

- Xyzal 5 mg tablet  (1 tablet taken every morning for 10days)

- combi-derm cream which contains cortisone (steroid) helps relieve the itch


Secondly, my urticaria triggers are sometimes food and the frequent change of season and temperature (hot-then cold-then hot –then cold again).   I have cholinergic, chronic cold urticaria, and delayed pressure urticaria.  How’s that for me avoid to avoid it’s triggers?


-Sharosem (28August2010)

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