Urticaria is commonly referred to as hives and presents itself commonly as red raised itchy bumps. The most common cause is as a reaction to some kind of allergen and tends to resolve itself in about 6 weeks. When hives last longer than this, it is regarded as chronic urticaria. Pharmaceutical drugs can cause hives which can include the common aspirin and penicillin. Natural occurring plants like poison ivy can also lead to serious outbreaks of allergic urticaria.
Even ironically, people with the aim of wanting to help improve their health with exercise can sometimes cause cause hives to flare up. Some people are even prone to getting a hive outbreak just from having a hot shower.
Another form of hives is seen with some people who are sensitive to shell foods or can occur if the source of the shell food was not clean or fresh. Medications used to treat hives include antihistamines and corticosteroids which are not always successful and have side effects.
Traditional Chinese medicine theory says that hives is commonly due to wind invading the skin and uses acupuncture points that have the function to eliminate wind from the skin. There is even a type of hives in western medicine called “Cold induced urticaria” where the cause is exposure to cold wind!!
Another aspect of hives according to traditional Chinese medicine theory is that there is an imbalance known as “hot blood”. There as not been any modern scientific research to determine if the blood temperature is actually higher but Chinese medicine physicians have been using acupuncture points for centuries that have the traditional function of “cooling the blood”.
Research presented in the Internet Journal of Dermatology back in 2006 confirmed that acupuncture had a led to a remission in their urticaria symptoms and that the greatest improvement in the skin was noted after three weeks of treatment. The acupuncture points that were used in the research were the same points that have been used for thousands of years with their function being noted as cooling the blood and resolving wind.
Mr Mark Crain, a well-known acupuncturist who has practicing in Brisbane for over 25 years, says that hives tends to come in two seasonal waves, one in the beginning of Spring and one near the end of summer. “The first batch of hives sufferers that come in the spring time and is due to stress and emotional factors. This is because the liver is most active in spring and the liver is the organ that has to deal with anger, impatience, irritability of which there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of. The second wave of hives patients come in just after Christmas complaining of a heat rash” he said. Mark believes that it is from an irregular diet including excessive greasy and sweet foods which have then been eaten to excess in combination with exposure to windy weather in the New Year period.
In Napier there have been a number of cases of hives due to people eating the shell fish from the Hawkes Bay coast. The shell fish taste good but in many areas of the coast, they may look clean but pollution from the shipping lines contaminate the shell fish.