Urticaria (Hives) - Symptoms, Treatment, Homeopathic Remedies
Using Homeopathy for Skin Hives and Urticaria
Hives (or Urticaria in Latin) is a sudden-onset allergic skin reaction - red raised areas of skin in various shapes and sizes. The hives themselves (small flat-topped bumps called wheals and larger welts) can cause severe itching and be very unsightly. They can appear on any area of the body. In many cases, the individual wheals and welts appear and disappear quickly, with new ones taking their places within minutes or hours. This fluctuation and rapid succession is a hallmark of hives. Estimates vary, but roughly 5% to 20% of the population will experience hives some time during their lifetimes; the condition is the most common rash for which people seek medical treatment.
Hives can occur at any age, and more than half the time a precise cause cannot be identified (in medical terminology, they are "idiopathic"). Some common known causes are allergic reactions to foods, medications, cleaning products, and cosmetics, insect bites or stings, viral infections, and excessive heat or sunlight. Even emotional stress can induce an outbreak.
The hives are caused by a release of histamines and other compounds into the skin from a type of cell called mast cells. This causes blood vessels to leak fluid and thus produce swelling in the skin.
Very often, hives are a passing phenomenon that resolves on its own. Conventional treatment for hives includes identifying the precipitating factor if possible; allergy testing, for example, might be administered. In addition, for mild cases doctors will frequently recommend a short-acting type H1 antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl); the chief side effect of this drug is significant drowsiness. Or a longer-acting antihistamine might be prescribed, such as fexofenadine (Allegra) or cetirizine (Zyrtec). Hives sufferers sometimes respond to the long-acting and non-sedating H1 antihistamine loratadine (Claritin), which is available without a prescription. Some physicians will prescribe type H2 antihistamines for hives such as ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid), and cimetidine (Tagamet).
Conventional Treatment Treats the Symptoms Not the Cause
For severe cases of hives, the main tools in doctors' arsenals are corticosteroids. These drugs, which may be administered orally or by injection, suppress the immune system's allergic response, which can alleviate symptoms and reduce the likelihood that the rash will return. Some corticosteroids are prednisone (Deltasone), dexamethasone (Decadron), and methylprednisolone (Medrol). But corticosteroids are powerful drugs with serious and undesirable side effects. By suppressing immune response, they can impair the body's ability to ward off infection, for example; in children and teenagers, they can stunt growth. Used in conventional medicine for a host of ailments and applications, corticosteroids should not be taken lightly, especially not on an ongoing basis.
There are many alternative natural remedies for hives, but not one single definitive treatment. Some recommendations include the use of papaya juice, amaranth tea, ginger bath, chamomile oil, freeze-dried stinging nettle leaf extract (taken orally), and jewelweed.
Homeopathy Matches Your Individual Symptoms to a Homeopathic Remedy So You Feel Better Right Away
From a homeopathic vantage, hives can be indicative of an underlying imbalance, as well as the body's aversion to a specific offending agent. This is why homeopaths will conduct inclusive interviews covering all aspects of a patient's physical and emotional state before prescribing.
The homeopathic remedy will be chosen based on a multitude of factors, including which part of the body is affected, whether the wheals burn or itch, whether they are periodic, whether the patient is restless, skin pallor, weather conditions that induce the hives, etc. Homeopathic remedies for hives include Arsenicum album, Bovista, Dulcamara, Formica rufa, Nat.mur, Nux vomica, Pulsatilla, Rhus toxicodendron, and Urtica urens.
A skilled homeopath will select a remedial course designed to both lessen the magnitude and frequency of the symptoms and also address the deeper disruption that is causing the problem. It is crucial, from the homeopathic perspective, not to merely suppress the skin symptoms, as this might merely drive the disease process deeper into the body and eventually affect vital organs.