Hives are the outbreak of swollen red bumps or wheals on the skin. Hives are caused by exposure to allergens. Another popular name for hives is Utricaria.
- Burning/stinging sensation
- Wheals/bumps can appear anywhere in the body
- Sometimes small bumps join together to form plaques
Chemical compounds called histamines are released into the bloodstream when we’re exposed to allergens. Allergic hives occur when histamines are released into the blood and as a result, blood plasma leaks out of small blood vessels in the skin.
Histamines are released in the following situations.
- Insect bites and stings
- Chemicals in certain foods
- Certain Medications
- Bacterial infections
- Allergic reactions
Types Of Hives
Acute Utricaria/Hives: These last less than 6 weeks. Common causes include food allergies – especially with nuts, eggs, fish, milk, chocolates, and berries. Food additives and preservatives can also cause acute hives. Certain drugs can also result in acute hives like aspirin, ibuprofen, and others.
Chronic Utricaria/Hives: These last for more than six weeks. Their cause is generally unknown but can due to underlying conditions like hepatitis, thyroid disease, infections or cancers. Along with rashes, they present with other symptoms like soreness, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Physical Utricaria: These are caused by the direct physical stimulation of the skin in response to extreme cold/heat, sweating, and others.
There are no specific tests for diagnosing hives, but you can go for skin patch tests to determine the substance to which you are allergic. Routine blood tests can also rule out the presence of other major diseases.
Ayurveda On Hives Causes
Ayurveda calls this condition sheetapitta. Sheetapitta is a condition where all the three doshas are vitiated with predominance of Vata. The dhathus (tissues) affected are rakta (blood tissue) and rasa (plasma).
The word sheetapitta consists of 2 words, sheeta which is a Sanskrit word meaning cold, and Pitta meaning warm/hot. It is a condition that is caused by the dominance of Vata and Kapha dosha over Pitta dosha.
Causative Factors As Per Ayurveda
- Intake of salty and pungent food in excess
- Excess intake of sarshapa (mustard)
- Exposure to extreme cold
- Improper emesis
- Insect bites
- Contact of poisonous bugs/objects
- Daytime sleep
Due to any of the above-said causative factors, the Vata and Kapha dosha get aggravated and get mixed up with Pitta.
Furthermore, the vitiated dosha spreads over the body and lodges in the external surface beneath the skin. This causes pale reddish eruptions with intense itching and stinging.
Ayurvedic Treatments And Remedies For Hives
- Oral medication like triphala choorna, haridra khanda, amritadi kashaya, and others are prescribed.
- Purifactory treatment – According to dosha predominance, vamana (emesis), virechana (therapeutic purgation) or rakta mokshana (bloodletting) has to be performed under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic physician.
- Avoiding exposure to causative factors
- Nimba (Neem leaves) – The application of paste of neem leaves in the rashes can reduce itching and burning sensation. Water boiled with neem leaves can be used for bathing as well
- Haridra (Turmeric) – External application of paste made of Turmeric powder (1 tsp.) + ghee (1 tsp.) on affected areas can reduce the rashes.
- Orally, guduchi (tinospora), amalaki (Indian gooseberry) and other similar herbs can be taken.
Managing Hives Naturally
- Oatmeal, witch hazel, and baking soda baths can soothe the skin and reduce itching.
- Squeeze aloe vera gel out of the leaves into a bowl. Use your fingers and apply it to the affected area(s). Keep it on for around 20 minutes before washing it off with cold water. This helps in soothing the skin and provides excellent moisture.
- Application of mustard oil on the affected area reduces itching and irritation.
- 10 ml of ginger juice along with 1 teaspoon of jaggery (guda) early in the morning daily helps in getting rid of recurrent acute urticaria/hives.
- Freshly crushed betel leaves if applied over the rashes gives relief from itching
You can also apply wet cloth or cool compresses in the affected area. How to make an Ayurvedic cold compress at home? Here’s how –
- Fill a small bowl with ice cold water.
- Add 6 drops to soothing/balancing essential oil as per your skin type.
- Swish through the water to disperse the oil.
- Take a clean absorbent cloth such as cotton, wool, or linen, and dip into the infusion.
- Wring out and apply on the affected area for 10-15 minutes.
- Another way is to choose cooling organic herbs/tea and prepare a decoction. Strain and proceed from there with a cloth.
Please consult your Ayurvedic practitioner before trying the remedies and herbs mentioned in this article. If you ever notice you’re having an allergic reaction, seek medical care immediately. Consult your primary healthcare provider if you get hives often.