What is Urticaria?
Urticaria, also known as nettle rash or hives, is characterized by recurring itchy skin, rash, or wheals on any part of the body caused due to allergic or non-allergic factors. The discomfort caused by urticaria and its unpredictable occurrence can interfere with the patient’s sleep, daily activities, and work or school performance.
In many cases of urticaria, the cause is not known which is also frustrating for the patients. But, a proper systematic treatment approach can provide significant relief to the patients.
The name urticaria comes from the Latin word and it signifies ‘nettle’. The word ‘Urtica’ is derived from the Latin word ‘uro’, which meaning ‘to burn’.
The eruptions or hives are red and raised above the skin with intense itching, local warmth and, sometimes, cause burning of the affected part. The eruptions vary in size and tend to recur. They remain for a variable period, ranging from a few seconds to hours. In a few patients, urticaria or hives appear once in a day, while some patients experience it many times in a day. Some patients get one or two eruptions, and a few patients suffer from hives all over the body.
In urticaria, wheals or hives appear and disappear repeatedly and tends to recur. It affects around 20%-25% of people, at some point in time in their life. Urticaria can be acute, chronic, or recurrent.
Acute Urticaria: If hives or urticaria lasts less than six weeks, it is known as acute urticaria. It is mostly caused due to allergens, such as certain food articles, medications, infection, insect bites, or internal disease.
Chronic Urticaria: If recurring hives appear for more than 6 weeks and may recur frequently over months or years then it is termed as chronic urticaria. Chronic urticaria may affect the quality of life of the patients. Many of them are dependent on antihistamines or steroids for a long time to get some relief. In most of the patients, the cause of urticaria is unknown. Autoimmunity is one of the common causes of chronic urticaria.
When swelling occurs beneath the skin at a deeper level causing swelling around the eyes, lips, genitals, hands, or feet, it is known as angioedema. It can last longer than hives on the skin. Sometimes, angioedema may affect the throat, windpipe, or lungs and cause difficulty in breathing. Angioedema may become life-threatening in some cases and needs immediate medical attention.
Dermatographism: Here hives or linear rash occurs after firm stroking, writing or scratching the skin.
Urticaria Pigmentosa: In this form of urticaria, you develop brown, intensely itching patches on the skin. On rubbing the spots, one gets hives or urticarial rash.
Homeopathy Treatment for Urticaria:
Urticaria is nothing but an expression of internal immunological disturbance. The hives or eruptions appear on the skin due to the inner war or hypersensitivity reaction of the immune system. While treating urticaria, it should not be just symptomatic relief from rash, itching, swelling, or pain. It should be corrected internally by correcting the immunological disturbance at the deep level.
This can be done with homeopathic treatment which is based on a similar principle. Homeopathic treatment not only relieves you of the symptoms but also treats urticaria at the root level by correcting the disturbance in the immune system. While treating urticaria with homeopathy, the hypersensitivity, which is responsible for the disease, is taken care of so that, later, the body does not react to an allergen the way it does in urticaria.
How Homeopathy Can Help In Urticaria:
As per our experience after treating thousands of cases at Life Force, homeopathy is highly effective in treating urticaria:
1)Homeopathy offers effective treatment in acute, chronic as well as recurrent urticaria by correcting the underlying disturbed immune system and hence treats the disease at a deep level.
2)Homeopathic treatment for urticaria offers long-lasting relief rather than temporary relief.
3)Homeopathic treatment is completely safe, non-toxic, and non-habit-forming.
4)It does not believe in treating urticaria superficially and treats the disease from its root.
5)Homeopathic treatment, when taken regularly, can reduce the dependency on antihistamine, steroids, and other conventional treatment.
6)After regular use of homeopathic medicine, the hypersensitivity to allergens can be reduced with time.
Homeopathy offers excellent treatment for urticaria with a success rate of over 80%-85%
Duration Of Homeopathic Treatment For Urticaria:
The total duration of homeopathic treatment for urticaria varies from patient to patient depending on the following factors:
- Duration of the disease: since how long the patient is suffering from urticaria plays a crucial role in the duration of the treatment.
- Form of urticaria: Whether it is an acute, chronic, or recurrent form of urticaria is also considered
- The extent of spread: Whether it’s mild, moderate, or severe urticaria is considered. Urticaria with frequent episodes of angioedema is difficult to treat.
- Cause: Allergic or non-allergic
- Current or past use of antihistamines or steroids: A prolonged use of antihistamines or steroids makes the case more difficult to treat.
- The general health of the patient and other associated diseases
Initially, a definite change can be observed in about one to three months in chronic cases. The frequency, intensity, and duration of episodes of urticaria reduce gradually after regular use of homeopathic medicines. The total duration of homeopathic treatment for chronic urticaria may be anything between eight months to more than two years.
Some Commonly Prescribed Homeopathic Remedies For Urticaria:
Rhus Toxicodendron, Apis Mellifica, Urtica urens, Natrum muriaticum, Carcinocin, Medusa, and Astacus are some of the common homeopathic remedies for urticaria. But, it is advisable to take the homeopathic treatment under the guidance of an expert after a proper evaluation of the case.
Pathogenesis Of Urticaria
Urticaria is a hypersensitivity reaction (allergic and immunological reaction) at the cutaneous level. When an allergen comes in contact with the body, there is the formation of antibodies by the immune system. Antigen and antibodies combine to activate the immunological reaction. This reaction further activates mast cells to release histamine. Histamine causes vasodilation, swelling, rash, itching, and pain. Urticaria is nothing but antigen and antibody (IgG, IgM or IgE) reaction triggered due to certain allergens, drugs or medicines, food articles, environmental factors, and other triggers.
Prevalence Of Urticaria:
Urticaria is a common skin condition with a lifetime incidence rate between 20% to 25%. It can affect any sex or age group.
Dermatographism is observed in around 5% of patients who suffer from urticaria.
Urticaria pigmentosa is commonly seen in infants and children but can affect adult too.
CAUSES OF URTICARIA:
The causes of chronic urticaria could be allergic or non-allergic. The non-allergic causes include auto-immunity related, hormonally triggered, stress-triggered, exercise, drugs, temperature-based, and other factors.
Some of the common causes of urticaria are as follows:
- Allergens: Different allergens have been identified as causative agents in some cases of urticaria. In urticaria, individual’s hypersensitivity plays an important role and hence following factors may not trigger urticaria in all patients:
Food allergens: Chicken, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, cheese, protein, its products, wheat, cereals, nuts, certain daals as used in India, peas, groundnuts, fruits like oranges, some synthetic and natural food additives, food which are artificially-flavored, etc.
Alcohol: Symptoms of anaphylaxis can occur in patients following the ingestion of beer and/or wine. Urticaria rashes have been reported with ethanol ingestion, and hives on contact with ethanol have also been reported in some patients with urticaria.
Drugs and medicines: Drugs, such as antibiotics (Penicillin), NSAIDs, anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, indomethacin), vaccinations, foreign sera, hormonal preparations, contraceptive pills, etc. can trigger urticaria.
Environmental factors: An exposure to pollen, house-dust, dander, change in the temperature, extreme cold, exposure to the heat, exposure to the sun, and pressure may also cause urticaria.
- Physical factors: Urticaria often gets triggered or aggravated by exercise, pressure on some part of the body as well as a change in temperature of the body after sweating.
- Emotional factors: Particularly in chronic, recurring cases of urticaria, the role of emotional factors must be taken into consideration. Stress may directly or indirectly make someone vulnerable to develop urticaria. The psychological factors may work as triggering, exciting, maintaining, or aggravating factor for urticaria. If someone is under prolonged stress, fear, anxiety, sadness, insecurity or any other emotional trauma, it could alter ones immunological state and, in turn, lead to hypersensitivity and urticaria.
- Infections and infestations: Infections due to certain fungi, protozoa, bacteria, or viruses (like Hepatitis, influenza, etc.), condition like helminthiasis (worm infestations such as roundworms, tapeworms, etc.), contact with domestic pet animals, insect bite, sting, etc. should be examined as the cause of urticaria.
- Cosmetics or synthetic products: Using synthetic products, such as deodorant, perfume, talcum powder, cosmetic products, and animal derivatives, may trigger urticaria in a few patients.
- Autoimmune causes: The presence of autoantibodies against Immunoglobulin E (IgE), CD23 (FcεRII or Fc epsilon RII) which releases histamine, may lead to chronic urticaria.
- Other systemic illnesses: In some cases, urticaria may present as a symptom or sign of some other systemic disease, such as hormonal disorders (thyroid disorders), SLE, polycythemia, certain types of cancers, rheumatoid arthritis reticulosis, and other ailments.
- Idiopathic cause: In many cases of urticaria, the cause is unknown.
SYMPTOMS OF URTICARIA:
- Eruptions: Raised, irregular or round-shaped, pale pink to red-colored hives is the prominent symptom of urticaria. Sometimes, hives present with local warmth and intense burning.
- Itching: The most troublesome symptom for most of the patients is intense uncontrollable itching which makes the patient restless and impatient. At times, the eruptions and itching may lead to a disturbance at work, daily routine, and can cause sleeplessness.
- The size of eruptions ranges from a few millimeters to several centimeters, and they may coalesce to form giant urticaria.
- Hives may last from a few seconds to 24 hours or more and may reoccur intermittently on various sites on the body.
- Dermatographism: When pressed with an object or fingernail, the skin shows raised eruptions of urticaria, which may remain on the skin for some time. Drawing a line and writing a word on the skin leading to urticaria is called dermatographism.
- Angioedema: Angioedema is a reaction similar to hives that affects deeper layers of the skin. It most commonly appears around the eyes, cheeks or lips, feet, hands, or genitals, etc. Sometimes angioedema may affect the throat, windpipe, or lungs and cause difficulty in breathing. Angioedema may become life-threatening in some cases and needs immediate medical attention.
- Urticaria pigmentosa: Urticaria pigmentosa is a form of urticaria as well as mastocytosis, in which you find brown, intensely itching patches on the skin. On rubbing the spots, one gets hives or urticarial rash.
DIAGNOSIS OF URTICARIA
Diagnosing the underlying cause of urticaria, or hives, whether it is acute or chronic, is important to manage the disease, to decrease recurrences, and to prevent the possible complications.
- Clinical diagnosis is made by a close examination of the skin eruptions. When observed and experienced by the patients, they can also recognize urticaria all by themselves.
- A careful case history is necessary to find the possible cause of hives or angioedema. Laboratory testing depends on medical history and a thorough examination by a physician.
- An allergy screening test is done in case when the suspected cause of urticaria is allergic.
- Skin sensitivity tests: Skin sensitivity tests may be performed to determine the substance to which you are allergic.
- A careful case history is needed to evaluate and rule out the other causes of urticaria, such as endocrine disorders, malignancy, systemic lupus erythematosus, respiratory diseases, other allergic disorders, etc.
- Hormonal study and thyroid profile may be advised to rule out thyroid disorders or any other hormonal disease if the clinical picture of the patient says so.
Supportive Treatment (Diet, Lifestyle, & Exercise) for Urticaria:
Here are some helpful tips to follow while managing Urticaria.
1) Follow a proper diet: Following a proper diet helps significantly in the treatment of urticaria.
Include in your diet foods rich in vitamin B, vitamin E, gluten-free food articles, etc.
Avoid eating peanuts, seafood, tomatoes, chocolate, corn, eggs, alcohol, fermented food, and red meat. Identify the food allergen and avoid food which may trigger urticaria in you.
2) Skincare tips:
Soothe your skin with cool compresses during an acute episode.
Moisturize your skin regularly.
Use mild soaps and cosmetics.
Avoid using very hot water for a bath.
3) Keep stress away which may cause or trigger urticaria. Practice yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises, as they are stress-relieving methods in chronic urticaria.
4) Wear loose clothes.
5) Avoid triggers: Try to figure out allergens which possibly trigger your urticaria and try to avoid them. Maintain a diary of your urticaria outbreak. Write down what you had been doing and eating before hives appear on your skin. In this way, you may be able to find out the triggers. If you know them, it will be easier to avoid them.
6) Avoid exposure to the extremes of heat or cold.
7) Avoid vigorous physical exercise which may trigger urticaria.
Conventional Treatment For Urticaria:
Most commonly used conventional medicines for urticaria are listed below.
1) Antihistamines: Antihistamines try to block the release of histamine and, in turn, stops further inflammatory reaction.
Anti-histamines offer symptomatic relief from urticaria and they work superficially, without addressing or correcting the underlying immunity problem. The effect of antihistamine stays for a short period of a few hours (8-10 hours). Most of the patients of chronic urticaria need antihistamines daily. A few patients may need it in multiple or increasing doses.
Some of the commonly used antihistamines are Allegra (Fexofenadine), Cetirizine, Levocetirizine, etc.
2) Cortisone: Steroids may work instantly, but they are habit-forming and they have their adverse effects, more importantly, they cause dependency. Chronic cortisone-dependent urticaria is more difficult to treat.
Other medications include cyclosporine, deworming, antifungal medicines, antibiotics, dapsone, etc.
The use of conventional medicines for urticaria is effective but it only gives temporary relief. They have their side-effects and are habit-forming. After a significant period, one may require a higher dose or different medicine.
Our Experience In Treating Urticaria At Life Force:
Dr. Rajesh Shah’s unique treatment protocol and research-based homeopathic treatment are made available to the patients of urticaria worldwide. There are patients from over 180 countries under Dr. Shah's care since last more than 30 years. We have successfully treated and documented more than 3000+ cases of different types of urticaria, such as acute urticaria, chronic and recurring urticaria, Urticaria with angioedema, urticaria pigmentosa, etc.
As per our experience at Life Force, while treating patients of urticaria, homeopathy not only treats the symptoms of the disease, but it also corrects the internal immunological imbalance and reduces the dependency on conventional treatment. Homeopathy is absolutely safe, harmless, and strongly recommended in the treatment of urticaria.