What to do when you get hives

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.

hivesIt 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!

creams for itchy skin

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:

  1. Aerius – a kind of antihistamine, orally taken once in the morning.
  2. Hizin – also an antihistamine, orally taken at night.
  3. 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.)
  4. He also recommended that she avoid the sun and preservatives-laden food.
  5. 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?

Review: Original Sprout shampoo and miracle detangler

Original Sprout - free and clean

New in Singapore, Original Sprout’s hair and skincare products caught my eye as they are free from the nasty stuff like phthalates, parabens, nanoparticles, petroleum oils, sulfates, and are even 100% vegan (no gluten, soy, nuts or dairy).

They are also suitable for babies and up, which means I get to enjoy using them too. 😉

We’ve been using it for the kids, and they really love the smell – hard to describe, it’s fresh, fruity and slightly flowery. Of course I checked, and the scents used are 100% from natural sources.

The star product, IMHO, is the miracle detangler, that I use on Vera as she’s been keeping long hair since the start of her obsession with princesses. A few sprays of the detangler and by gently rubbing it over her hair makes it so much easier to come through. No more tangles!

Original Sprout hair and body baby wash

As Vera has very sensitive skin, I was a tad wary of trying the shampoo on her. But so far so good, her eczema patches which flared up in February have calmed down a lot, and the use of the Original Sprout shampoo did not aggravate her condition.

I’ve also tried it out as a hair and body wash for baby Joshua as it’s supposed to help with cradle cap. His cradle cap has improved a lot too, as I’ve also been using my own coconut oil to massage his scalp before bath-time. So kudos to both coconut oil and Original Sprout babywash!

For myself, I’ve been using the Deep Conditioner for weeks now and am enjoying much smoother hair. I confess, I’ve been quite lazy about using conditioners but after trying this one out, I’ve been motivated by the way my hair smells so lovely after a wash. I’ve never been able to retain scents in my hair because it’s quite thin and fine. But somehow this one works well for me, so I’m happy to stick with it for a while.

Original Sprout is now available at Watsons stores islandwide. Try it out and see if it works for you! 🙂

I was sent some products from Original Sprout to review. All stories and opinions are my own.


Confinement dos and don’ts

I just had my first session with Val from Nouri Face and Body Concepts, and found out that I’ve been doing so much confinement stuff wrongly.

Such as…

  • Drinking my red date tea at room temperature (no wonder I haven’t been feeling sweaty after drinking)
  • Adding tap water into my boiled herbal water for bathing (she said even a drop of unboiled water will render my entire pot of herbal water useless)
  • Taking tonics and “bu” too early as my body has a lot of wind still, so I should focus on removing wind before taking tonics (for optimal absorption)
  • Using the fan (she advised air-con is better as the air is stagnant and won’t enter the body)

Sigh. And I thought I was having it easy this round. Val said that if I don’t follow the rules, my entire package would go to waste. (I’m not making her out to be an authoritarian, but she really is serious about wanting me to have a successful confinement, to be stronger and regain my figure too!)

But not all is lost. I still have two weeks to get my act together, and make up for lost time.

Here are the dos and don’ts that I learnt today.


  • Use da feng cao boiled water and a micro-fibre cloth to bathe or wipe your body
  • Boil soups with rice wine and white peppercorn to expel wind from the body. (only when wind is expelled can you start taking tonics.)
  • Drink tea made with red and black dates in a 1:2 ratio. Must be drunk hot.
  • Use gloves if you need to do some washing so that you’re not in contact with cold water for prolonged periods.


  • Consume cold drinks or food (this will cause wind to enter the body and lead to water retention, weak joints, poor constitution)
  • Venture outdoors in cool or windy weather (if you must, cover up)
  • Consume anything that is not boiled and not warm
  • Eat bread (this may sound odd, but she said bread can cause wind)

Will be sharing more about my post-natal slimming treatment in my next post. Wish me well!

10 simple home remedies for UTI

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading up and research after my recent bout of UTI — talking to different friends who were kind enough to share their experience, getting advice from friends in the medical field, google, etc.

I’ve come to realise that UTI is more common than you would think. It’s just not one of those illnesses that many would feel comfortable airing on Facebook or even in any other social setting.

The fact is this infection affects mostly women, for biological reasons. And a lot of us tend to suffer in silence, feeling as if we’ve done something wrong to bring it upon ourselves.

So the bacteria that commonly causes UTI has got to do with a whole host of factors, mainly level of water intake, stress levels, diet, overall health and immunity, and feminine hygiene habits (such as showering before and after any sexual activity, wearing of panty liners, etc).

Based on what I’ve experienced and what others have shared with me, here are some simple home remedies that you can try the next time UTI hits.

1) Drink at least 2L of water daily – this is probably the most important thing you can do, as drinking water and passing urine frequently will help to flush the bacteria out from your system.

2) Drink parsley water – this is a traditional remedy that works as a diuretic, which helps to flush out the urinary tract. Just steep some parsley leaves in hot water for 10 minutes, and drink it over the next few hours. (Just a note of caution if you’re in the early stages of pregnancy as too much parsley in high concentration can cause the uterus to contract. I tried parsley water when I was around week 18 of pregnancy, and did not experience any contractions.)

3) Drink cranberry juice – the unsweetened variety is best.

4) Drink apple cider vinegar mixed with water – this is a tip from a mummy friend of mine. It’s supposedly helps to ease the stinging and cramping pain that often accompany UTI.

5) Take Citravescent – a urinary alkaliniser available over-the-counter that also helps to minimise stinging.

6) Take Ethical Nutrients Urinary Tract Support pills – This is made out of TCM herbs and my gynae also gave his nod of approval, saying it is not only safe to take during pregnancy, it also acts as a general vitamin supplement. (I bought these when I was in Australia, as I think it’s an Australian brand. So far, I haven’t come across the same pills in Singapore.)

7) Treat constipation swiftly as constipation can also increase your chances of having UTI.

8) Increase your intake of probiotics – The best sources of these good bacteria can be found in natural unsweetened yoghurt (you can add fruit to make it more palatable), miso (unpasteurised and not cooked over high heat), kimchi and pickles. You can also get probiotics in capsule form from iHerb. I usually get Dr Mercola probiotics. Use my code to save $5 off your first order.

9) Cut down your intake of caffeine and processed foods that are high in sugar like cereal, cakes or bread. (Try to avoid these completely for the duration of your UTI.)

10) Avoid panty-liners if you can help it – As breathable as they may sound, they. are. not. Period.

I struggle most with No. 9, as I love my daily milk tea, and I also enjoy the occasional sweet treats. But hey, it’s a daily journey and there are always healthier alternatives to be discovered, like these gluten-free varieties that a friend just shared on her blog.

If you’ve found these tips useful, do share them with the women in your life. 🙂

Counting my blessings at pregnancy week 22

They say that gratefulness is the key to happiness.

Here are the little blessings I’m grateful for this week.

1) Detailed scan @ 22 weeks

I went for my detailed scan last week. Because I chose not to do the Oscar test, the detailed scan is like a first detailed assessment of the baby, and I was praying that it wouldn’t show up any abnormalities or points for concern.

Thankfully, all went well. And the scanologist (or whatever you call the person doing the scan) even mentioned that baby was growing very well and was on the higher percentile for its stage of growth.

Well, it turned out that they got my edd wrong, and I’m about a week further into my pregnancy than she thought, which would bring the measurements closer to mid-range. Anyway the gynae clarified that, and we’re just happy that all is well with baby!

Also glad to bring home this close-up shot of baby dozing comfortably in the womb. (His arms tucked under his cheek.) The kids were all excited and going, “I wanna see baby!”

2) Freedom from UTI

Last week marked the last of my UTI woes. You might be wondering how come it took so long to heal? Doesn’t it normally clear up with antibiotics?

Apparently my case was a little abnormal. But whatever the case, I’m thankful that the bleeding and abdominal pains are over. And I’m doing all I can to stay clear and healthy for the remaining four months of pregnancy. (Mainly upping my daily dose of probiotics from yoghurt, miso and kimchi, taking more raw vegetables and fruits, and cutting down on sweet treats and processed stuff like bread.)

3) JJ’s new milestones
He’s recently learnt to wear his own slippers. It has an elastic band at the back and he’s able to now pull the band up behind his ankle and wriggle his toes into the right position. He’s also picking up lots of new words and phrases from his big sister.

Perhaps more importantly, he’s starting to show a growing desire to want to please us and is eager to be helpful whenever help is called upon. I’m ever so glad for these sunshine moments because it shows me a glimpse of who he can be, who he is capable of becoming, rather than just focusing on the negative — you know, the tantrums that are of course still rearing their head from time to time.

He is also able to gurgle his mouth after brushing his teeth now. Still we probably won’t be transitioning from the baby-safe toothpaste until he’s well into his third or fourth year.

On my wishlist is to be able to get him to sit on the potty, something he’s been quite resistant to this past year. Well one step at a time I guess…For now, we’re enjoying his sunshine smiles and cheeky contagious laughter. 🙂

4) Exercise time at the pool – I’ve been making swim dates with my girlfriends and I must say, without the kids in tow, I’m relishing the freedom to exercise and relax. I know now that I need to schedule this regularly, not just to improve the state of my health, but also to have some space to myself, to breathe and just be with good friends.

When I take the time to count my blessings, it’s like putting on a different lens. Life looks good from here…

What are you thankful for this week?

Linking up with Mum in the Making’s Grateful Gatherings.


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