Urticaria, or more commonly known as hives, is a sudden outbreak of raised, pale red bumps or plaques (wheals) on the skin. Hives usually cause itching, but may also burn or sting. Each episode typically lasts less than a day, and resolves completely.

There are 2 main types of hives: acute and chronic urticaria. Acute urticaria includes hives lasting less than 6 weeks. These are often caused by allergies to certain food, medication, or infection. Chronic urticaria, on the other hand, lasts more than 6 weeks, and its causes are sometimes impossible to be determined.

From traditional Chinese medicine point of view, hives are believed to be caused by four main reasons, namely wind, blood and Qi deficiency, heat and dampness in digestive system, and emotions. These four factors can trigger the onset of hives individually, or act together to complicate the condition.

Although hives are typically mild and non-life threatening, it can sometimes be a sign of a serious allergic reaction. Should you experience dizziness, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, or swelling of lips, tongue, or face, seek emergency help immediately!

Otherwise, in normal cases, there are some ways to help control recurrent flares: 1. Consume a balanced and healthy diet. Avoid any known food allergens to prevent outbreaks. 2. Ensure regular bowel movements. 3. Avoid extreme temperatures, especially in patients whose hives are triggered by physical stimulation such as cold, heat, sun exposure, sweat, or sudden temperature changes. 4. Stay happy and manage stress. Emotional stress is known to aggravate hives, and thus keeping a healthy mentality will help reduce recurring episodes. 5. Ensure sufficient rest.

There are also some simple home remedies that you can prepare:

  1. Water chestnut drink
This is suitable for patients experiencing acute episodes of red swollen rashes with severe itch or even burning. Ingredients: 200g of fresh water chestnut, 10g of fresh mint leaves, 10g of sugar Steps: After removing the skin, blend the water chestnut to juice. Mash the fresh mint leaves with sugar before adding into the water chestnut juice. Dilute with 200ml of water and mix well. Consume as tea.

  1. Brown sugar lotus root
This is suitable for patients with chronic hives which often aggravate at night. Ingredients: 300g of fresh lotus root, 20g of brown sugar Steps: Slice the lotus root before blanching in boiling water. Add brown sugar and season to taste. Stir well and serve. Lastly, there are also acupoints that can help relieve hives:
  1. Fengchi: Located at the two depressions at the back of the neck
  2. Quchi: Located at the outside end of the elbow crease line
  3. Zusanli: Located on the outside of the shinbone, 3 inches below the knee
  4. Xuehai: Located on the inner thigh, 2 inches above patella
Through simple care and management at the comfort of your own home, you can better control your condition and reduce possible hives outbreaks.

Health Education