How to live with heat hives?
April 30, 2007 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Any suggestions on how to live with heat hives? I'd like to survive the summer...

To make a short story long...
For about the past two years, I've been breaking out into hives sometimes on my face, neck, and arms, which I assumed were caused by something in the environment I had touched since I have a lot of allergies. (When taking a shower, I thought it was probably because of mold in the bathroom, even after cleaning; when it would happen at other times, I just chalked it up to maybe touching something with animal fur on it or something, somehow.)

But especially now that it's getting warm out, it's been happening more frequently and I've just recently made the connection to heat - whether it's taking an even somewhat hot shower, eating hot food, being in a warm room, etc. After visiting the allergist last week, she increased my dose of Zyrtec from 10 mg to 20 mg a day and had me take a blood test to rule out other possibilities, which turned out normal.

However, the hives still show up sometimes (at least as slightly itchy, ugly-looking red blotches), and I imagine it will only get worse as summer comes. It's kind of depressing to know I can hardly spend much time outside during the day, eat hot or spicy food, or even enjoy a cup of coffee much hotter than lukewarm.

So, has anyone else lived with this problem? What, other than avoiding things like hot coffee, hot showers, and being outside too much, can I do about it? I've heard things about sweating it out and even acupuncture, but does anyone have any personal experience with these things? I'd like to be able to live as normal a life as possible without constantly worrying about my body temperature, so any suggestions would be appreciated. Oh, and I'm 21, female, and live in northern Minnesota, if that has any relevance.
posted by flod logic to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I call it "heat rash," when my fair, sensitive skin gets red and touchy. Suggestions: take a tepid bath with 1/2 pound of baking soda added; avoid synthetic fabrics; drink iced coffee (I do, year-round!).
posted by Carol Anne at 5:08 AM on May 1, 2007

When I was in my early 20s, I had this problem too. Broke out in hives all over my midsection, arms and legs. It took me a while to figure out that heat was the cause, but eventually I correlated the outbreaks with things like hot baths, tight-fitting clothing, sleeping under heavy blankets, etc. I carried a bottle of Benadryl gel with me (works very well), and tried to avoid overheating. After about a year or so, the problem when away on its own, and now 8 or 9 years later it's never recurred. So, it's possible to grow out of it.
posted by statolith at 6:06 AM on May 1, 2007

I get heat hives between my fingers and in my elbows and knees in the summer. After years of trying basically every OTC cream and lotion I could get my hands on, I asked my doctor for something stronger, and she prescribed betamethasone valerate cream. It's a corticosteroid, but unlike hydrocortisone, which just seemed to stop itching and had to be used continuously, the betamethasone actually reduced the swelling and hives and could be discontinued after a few days.
Rapid changes in temperature, especially if I'm sweating, are a trigger for mine -- I try to do cool-down periods after exercising, and hang out for a while in lobbies rather than going directly from full summer outdoors to heavily air-conditioned buildings.
posted by nonane at 6:16 AM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Two things: Anti-bacterial soap (many deoderant soaps are also anti bacterial), and antihistamines. Benadryl creme is a great topical ointment for this stuff, and the pills work well, although they make me drowsy so I only take them in the evening. Claritin is a good daytime antihistamine for me; if I'm having hive/heat rash issues, I take one in the morning and it helps a lot. Another thing that helps me is using some powder when getting dressed; stuff like Gold Bond Medicated Powder works well for me.

I find it is heat and stress related. Just understanding there is a stress component helps relieve the stress for me; I realize that if I can relax just a bit, the itching stops.
posted by Doohickie at 6:53 AM on May 1, 2007

There are two books which I believe are relevant to a majority of skin problems: Dry Skin and Common Sense, by Dale Alexander; and Leaky Gut Syndrome, by Elizabeth Lipski. Part of the problem is the delayed-reaction factor. Hot showers and scratching might feel soothing for a minute, but they increase the torment and healing time required. Similarly, internally, there may be foods which you need to avoid, such as oranges or strawberries, which may cause "strawberry hives".

If you can't sleep or you think you need medication, taking an enema will soothe you and let you get to sleep.

I'll give a short rendition of the oil routine contained in Dale Alexander's book.
Go to the health food store and buy cod liver oil, 3-6-9 essential oil, and liquid vitamin E. Mix a tablespoon of the first two of these and 10 drops of vitamin E in a small jar, add less than a cup of milk, shake and drink (every morning) and give a half hour before breakfast. The purpose is for the milk to distribute the oils to all parts of your body to lubricate and moisturize your skin, so you don't want to mix this with foods.

Also take vitamins C (500 IU), B-complex (50 IU), beta-carotene, and gelatin powder with (I like) carrot juice or pomegranate juice every day. Twice a day if you are in a crisis period. This will give your body a chance to heal itself. I don't know how to address the long-term outlook, except not to be afraid.
posted by kapec at 7:55 PM on May 1, 2007

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