Mystified about skin allergy
Question : I have been suffering from a skin allergy for the past one year. It starts like a mosquito or ant bite on any part of the body and then grows into huge red swollen patches which are very itchy and warm to the touch.
Answer : You may be suffering from hives or urticaria. Hives or urticaria is a relatively common form of allergic reaction. Hives are a series of raised red skin welts, ranging upwards from 5mm in diameter. They itch severely, or may even burn or sting, and often have a pale border. Each outbreak may last a few hours or days before fading without a trace. They are caused by blood plasma leaking out of small blood vessels in the skin. It is more common in children than in adults.
Hives can appear anywhere on the body. Often, the cause is unknown. Some common allergic triggers are certain foods, medications (such as antibiotics), insect stings and bite. Other causes of hives are not related to allergies and these can include exposure to the cold (like diving into a cold pool), exercise, sun exposure, nervousness or stress, and infections caused by viruses.
The most common foods that cause hives are nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, fresh berries and milk. Fresh foods cause hives more often than cooked foods. Food additives and preservatives may also be the culprit. Opt for a diet free of additives, caffeine and processed food. If a problem with a specific food is strongly suspected, then it should be avoided.
Antioxidant nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, zinc and selenium help to neutralise harmful free radicals, defend against allergens and promote healing. Dietary supplementation with essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) will help relieve hives.
Avoid harsh soaps and frequent bathing and vigorous wiping after a bath to reduce the problem of dry skin, which can cause itching and scratching that can aggravate hives. Drinking plenty of water helps flush the digestive system and to dilute accumulating histamines and other reaction-causing allergens.
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