Hives (urticaria) are swollen, red, bumps, patches or welts on the skin that appear suddenly. Itching is the most common symptom associated with hives, although some people report that hives cause a stinging or burning sensation. Hives can occur anywhere on the body including the hands, face, lips, tongue, throat, or ears.
A sign that the whole body is experiencing a hypersensitivity reaction a hives outbreak can occur due to a wide array of stimuli. While intolerance to certain foods, additives, intense emotions, sunlight exposure, and medications can all cause hives, in 70-75% of outbreaks the exact cause of hives remains unknown.
Whether lasting for just a few minutes, a few hours or persisting for several weeks hives are rarely a medical emergency however, in some cases they can be accompanied by shock, difficulty breathing and be life threatening. About 20% of people will experience hives (urticaria) at some point in their lives. While standard treatment for hives is directed toward relieving unpleasant symptoms with antihistamines or a corticosteroid drug many people are turning to acupuncture and Oriental medicine to address underlying imbalances that cause this condition and stop recurrent outbreaks once and for all.
Evidence that Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for skin disorders, such as hives, can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD. Medicinal plants and stone needles were utilized to relieve and cure discomforts of the external areas of the body.
In Oriental medicine, an outbreak of hives is described as wind invading the skin and the meridians, causing itching and swelling. When the eruptions are red it is an indication that wind and heat are involved. When the eruptions are a pale pink or white, it is likely that the diagnoses will be wind-cold invading the skin. How the condition is diagnosed will determine what acupuncture points are used, what herbal medicinals are prescribed and what lifestyle/dietary recommendations are made.
Treatments are directed at addressing both the cause and the symptoms by providing immediate relief from the itching and swelling and addressing the underlying imbalances and triggers that are causing the condition.
If you suffer from hives, contact Portland acupuncturist Boynn McIntire at All and One Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic to learn how Chinese medicine can help your symptoms.