Nettle Rash

What is Urticaria or Hives or Nettle Rash:-

Urticaria also called nettle rash or hives or wheals in common language simply mean itching with rash. It is an allergic skin disorder. It refers to a group of disorders affecting adults and children, in which red patches and wheals occur in the skin.

The release of chemicals such as histamine from mast cells in the skin causes small blood vessels to leak and result in tissue swelling. The wheals can be a few millimeters or several centimeters in diameter, colored white or red, often surrounded by a red flare, and frequently itchy. Each wheal may last a few minutes or several hours, and may change shape. Wheals may be round, or form rings, a map-like pattern or giant patches.

The surface wheals may be accompanied by deeper swellings of eyelids, lips, hands and elsewhere. The swelling is called angioedema. Angioedema may occur with or without urticaria wheals. Angioedema can cause disableing swelling of internal organs, life-threatening blockage of air passages, or severe, uncontrollable intestinal contractions. If the swelling occurs in the throat, it can cause suffocation.

These eruptions can remain on the body for variable period, anywhere between few seconds to even hours. They have tendency to disappear and reappear. They tend to disappear without leaving behind any trace.

In conventional treatment usually consists of anti-histamines, some of which, such as Piriton, can be bought over the counter. If the allergic reaction is very severe, occasionally steroids may be prescribed.

Cetrizine and Avil are the most commonly used medicines, with a sedative effect; relief is temporary and works for only 12-36 hours.

Anti histamine (which blocks the action of histamine) is not an answer to chronic urticaria.

When an antihistamine is ingested it inhibits the action of histamine, in turn relieving rash and itching. However, it is important to understand that histamine is released as a result of the allergic process, which is immunologically mediated. The immunological reaction to an allergen is the cause for the urticarial rash and itching. Histamine release is not the ultimate cause for urticaria. Histamine release is just the result of the allergic process. That means, by nullifying the effects of histamine by using the anti histamine, you are treating the effects of the disease and not the cause of the disease.

Soon, on stopping the anti-histamine, the rash and itching resurfaces in no time, suggesting superficiality of the anti allergic treatment. Also prolonged use of anti histaminic is habit forming.

Homoeoapthic approach:-

Chronic urticaria calls for another approach. Uriticaria is merely a symptom and not a disease by itselft. However, it should be regarded as a significant reflection of the internal system dysfunction.

It ought to be appreciated as an external signal of internal derangement and accordingly, should be treated with thorough assessment of the entire human system.

Homoeopathy has been recognized as a significant natural medical therapy for urticaria in particular and chronic diseases in general. Homoeopathy, a rapidly growing alternative medicine offers excellent treatment. The objective of taking treatment is to provide comfort. Homoeopathy provides it without any side effects.

The approach is a natural and harmless way to help the body by supporting the body’s own process of healing. It involves the use of extremely diluted natural substances to heal the body through the release of vital energy.

Also not only homoeopathic medicines will shut allergy like switching off, but it desensitizes the body to the allergen by improving immunity. Thus it helps the patient to live in their circumstances and environment. The treatment plans thus designed is addressed towards correcting the immune system, in turn treating urticaria from within.

Types:-

  • Allergic urticaria: When an allergen invades or irritates your body, it unleashes chemicals known as histamines. Some people react to a high histamine level by developing the rash we call hives.
  • Non allergic urticaria
  • Acute urticaria : It may be caused by an allergy and can last between several hours and many weeks. The most likely triggers are allergies to pets, horses, latex and foods, such as shellfish and nuts in adults and eggs and cow’s milk in children.
  • Chronic urticaria : It is not usually caused by an allergy. It refers to hives that persists for 6 weeks or more. There are no visual differences between acute and chronic urticaria. The cause is often more difficult to identify. Most cases are called chronic idiopathic urticaria, which means they are caused by the body’s unexplained development of antibodies to itself (auto-antibodies or auto-immune).
  • Drug induced urticaria : Certain drugs like anti diabetic sulphonylurea glimepiride (trade name Amaryl), aspirin, penicillin, sulfonamides and anticonvulsants and so on.
  • Physical urticaria : It is triggered by physical factors and lasts only an hour or two and is often categorized into the following :
  • Aquagenic : Reaction to water.
  • Cholinergic : Reaction to body heat, such as when exercising or after a hot shower.
  • Cold (Chronic old urticaria) : Reaction to cold, such as ice, cold air or water.
  • Delayed pressure : Reaction to standing for long periods, bra straps, elastic bands on undergarments, belts.
  • Dermatographic : Reaction when skin is scratched.
  • Heat : Reaction to hot food or objects.
  • Solar : Reaction to direct sunlight.
  • Vibration : Reaction to vibration.
  • Adrenergic : Reaction to adrenalin / noradrenalin.

Symptoms:-

“In chronic cases, the itchiness may cause sleepless nights and leads to depression.”

The rash is very itchy and consists of a number of raised bumpy wheals surrounded by red skin. Ordinary urticaria tends to move about or migrate all over the skin surface.

The condition tends to settle and then relapse again at times of viral illness, stress and after taking medication that contains aspirin. This chronic pattern may recur for many years.

Tissue swelling, called Angioderma, may occur with urticaria. This affects the lax tissues around eyelids, lips, neck and groin.

Diagnosis:-

A careful case analysis and evaluation is required to make a correct diagnosis. There is no need for specific investigations in most of the cases of urticaria. However, the tests may be helpful in some cases:

  • Complete blood count to identify eosinophilia caused by allergy or parasitic infestation, and low WBC from SLE.
  • Thyroid antibodies and function in chronic urticaria.
  • Comprehensive allergy screening. Blood tests for specific allergy (RAST, or radiollergosorbent tests, or CAP fluroimmunosay).
  • Skin biopsy if wheals are prolonged.