Vera recently had a bout of hives. This was just the start. It quickly got worse during the course of the day, hitting a peak at evening time.
It was triggered after we made a trip to the botanic gardens. It was nearing noon and it was really hot. Although we hid in a cool shelter for a while, by the time we left she had developed a heat rash.
Around bedtime that day, I noticed she had three small bites on her leg, with whitish heads. I quickly applied some calendula cream to soothe it as she said it was itchy.
Next morning, her hives became full blown.
(As background, she’s had hives before about 2 years back, which lasted 2-3 days. I also had two episodes of hives that lasted a few months each time after giving birth to Vera and JJ. I had to go on Zyrtec for those few months. Her first episode was not itchy at all, just disturbing because of the round spots that covered her limbs and some areas of her face.)
This time round, it was really bad. The itch was unbearable on the first two days and got worse in the evening.
I tried an entire gamut of remedies ranging from essential oils (lavender and purification oil) to natural calendula balms to DOM benedictine (only because a friend told me that brandy used to work for her, and I didn’t have brandy in the house). I tried stress away essential oil (pic, bottom left) – a blend of lime, vanilla, cedarwood and lavender oils, as I read that it helps to soothe skin allergies. But I think all it did was help reduce some of my own stress!
Nothing helped very much. She was itching and scratching like a monkey.
My friend (also my masseuse) passed me a bottle of oil purchased from Thailand (above pic, bottom right). She has a history of hives and she said this oil is about the only thing that could help with the itch. Apart from getting a jab at the hospital.
True enough, after trying it, Vera said that it helped, but it hurt quite a bit upon application because it’s very spicy. I taught her to apply it herself as she knows where her itches were, and she could control it if it got too spicy/painful.
(If you do get your hands on the Thai oil, just a word of caution, I don’t personally know what is in that bottle, or how the oil is made. I only know it helped my friend, and Vera. Before you use it everywhere, be sure to do a patch test.)
Friends also recommended the following remedies (which I didn’t get to try):
- soaking in baking soda solution
- applying white vinegar on the spots
- powdering the body with “wine biscuit” (literally translated from chinese, only available at traditional chinese medicine halls.)
- calamine lotion
- witchhazel (available at pharmacies.)
Although the oil helped to soothe her itch, her spots didn’t subside. So I brought her to a dermatology-trained doctor at Redhill called Steven Ang. He was soft-spoken and seemed unfazed about Vera’s condition.
Here’s the medication and advice that he gave:
- Aerius – a kind of antihistamine, orally taken once in the morning.
- Hizin – also an antihistamine, orally taken at night.
- Gingoside – a light cooling cream for applying on the body (above pic, top left). (I checked with the doctor and he said this cream does not contain steroids.)
- He also recommended that she avoid the sun and preservatives-laden food.
- He said that hives are not harmful but can be very itchy. It usually goes away by itself in 2-5 days. If it lasts beyond 5 days, or if it affects ability to breathe, additional medical attention is required.
After one dose of Aerius and one application of Gingoside, I noticed her scratching had greatly reduced. We saw Dr Ang on day 2, and continued the medication till day 4. By day 4, she was well enough to go to church although she still had some spots on her legs. The key thing was that she wasn’t itching anymore, and she felt happy enough to go out.
On day 5, the number of spots had lessened and by day 6, she was looking normal again.
We were so thankful that she didn’t need anything stronger than what the doctor prescribed. But just to be safe, we’re avoiding outdoor exercise for the time being, especially on extra hot and sunny days.
Have you had hives before? What helped and what didn’t?