Urticaria is a common disorder, characterised by formation of weals on the skin. The disease is also known as nettle-rash as the rash of urticaria resembles the sting of a nettle. The disease may be acute, chronic, or recurrent. It is considered to be an allergic reaction like hay fever and asthma.
Causes and Symptoms
Raised red and white patches appear on the skin. They are accompanied by burning, intense itching, and stinging. Rubbing and scratching usually aggravate the condition. The outbreak of Urticaria is sudden and the disease may affect any part or the entire body. The eruptions may be as small as pin heads or as large as a rupee. The eruption may fade in a few minutes or an hour in one place, but may appear in another. Other symptoms which accompany hives are fever, digestive disturbances, and prostration. The disorder lasts from a day or two to a week. Recovery is rapid and complete, though recurring attacks may take place at varying intervals.
There are several causes of urticaria. It may result from digestive disorders like mechanical irritation in the digestive tractor toxaemia. rnay be caused by drugs like aspirin, penicillin, quinine, ipecac, so on. Certain foods often cause urticaria in susceptible individuals. These include strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, oatmeal, wheat, nuts, fish, eggs, chocolate, cheese, butter, and sausages. The bites of bedbugs, wasps, bees, mosquitoes, flies, and certain kinds of caterpillars may produce the disease. It may also result from emotional excitement.
Salt: The use of salt is beneficial in the treatment of urticaria when it is accompanied by digestive disorders. In such a condition, about twelve grams of salt should be dissolved in water and taken by the patient. The throat should be tickled to induce vomiting. This will give relief and help in curing eruptions.
Alum and Red Ochre: These two substances are consi¬dered valuable in urticaria. An equal quantity of alum and red ochre should be ground together and the powder rubbed on the weals.
Rose-Water and Vinegar: The use of rose-water in vinegar is useful when there is severe itching on the eruption. About 35 ml of rose water and 25 ml of vinegar should be mixed and the mixture applied locally to the affected part. This will give immediate relief.
Mint: This leafy vegetable has also been found useful in relieving itching in urticaria. About 7 gm of mint and 25 gm of brown sugar should be boiled together in about 175 ml of water and drunk. This will relieve the itching.
Turmeric: The use of turmeric is valuable in urticaria. The patient should take two teaspoons of turmeric powder mixed with a cup of water daily.
Rauwolfia: The herb rauwolfia is beneficial in relieving itching in urticaria. One gram of the powdered root can be taken with a cup of water daily.
As urticaria usually has its origin in the gastro-intestinal tract, the best way to commence the treatment is to adopt an all-fruit diet for about five days. In this regimen, the patient should take three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits such as oranges, apples, pineapples, grapes, pears, peaches, and papayas. The patient should drink a copious amount of hot water.
After the all-fruit diet, the patient may embark upon a well- balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits. The emphasis should be on fresh fruits and raw vegetable salads. The patient should avoid tea, coffee, alcohol, all flesh foods, refined foods, and all foods which are difficult to digest He should drink at least eight glasses of water daily between meals. A glass of water containing the juice of half a lemon may be taken one hour before each meal and also between meals.
The patient should spend two or three days on an all-fruit diet, at regular intervals. This will further cleanse the system of toxic matters and help recovery.
A warm-water enema should be used daily during the initial all-fruit diet to cleanse the bowels, and later, if necessary. The patient should avoid exposure to cold and cold water. Fresh air and sunlight are also essential for the treatment and the patient should frequently expose his body to the sun.
One of the most effective remedies for treating urticaria is a hot Epsom salts bath to be taken three times a week. This bath is prepared by dissolving one kilogram of commercial Epsom salts in an ordinary bath of hot water. The patient should remain immersed in the bath from ten to twenty minutes. He should cool off gradually and care should be taken not to catch a chill afterwards. No soap should be used with the Epsom salts bath, as this interferes with its beneficial effects.