Most people that have had an experience with hives usually have had a temporary break out. Spots or bumps appear on the skin and they usually itch and/or burn for a few hours before going away. Imagine experiencing that for days at a time over the period of months… how about years… This has been my struggle for the past 3 years.
I was aware that I suffer from Pressure Urticaria, which causes hives to appear if I wear anything that is too tight, or digs into my skin. This includes my waist line if my pants are too tight, my feet if my shoes have not been broken in, my neck if I wear a halter top, and so on. It wasn’t until I relocated to GA in the summer of 2012 that I realized that my hives were not just normal hives. Upon relocating I began to break out more frequently. My episodes seemed to be getting worse growing in size and duration. When I had a breakout on my stomach that October I was hospitalized. The hives had taken over my midsection and I seemed to be at least 7 months pregnant. A procession of doctors continued throughout my stay because they had never seen such a bad case in person. The solution at that time was Benadryl straight into the blood stream, and a mandatory follow up to an allergy specialist. I followed the orders and visited the allergist that same week. The results showed that I was allergic to nearly every tree in the state of GA, grass, cats, dogs, apples, almonds, and HOPS which is found in beer and some hair products. Learning this information, I began to avoid my allergens, but my hives kept recurring. I began taking photos and paying more attention to how these hives were affecting me. I discovered that
- My hives last about 2-4 days on average.
- Once the swelling goes away, my skin is darkened (or bruised) in all areas where the hive reached
- Taking Benadryl will not stop the spread of an existing hive
- Even though I have pressure urticaria, wrapping a hive on my limbs tightly with an ace bandage not only stops the itching, but speeds up the process of “unswelling”. The only down side to that is that is if the entire limb isn’t wrapped, I can wind up pushing the hive to another location.
The worst one I’ve had started on my legs. I was on a road trip from GA to NJ and upon arriving I began to itch. That hive wound up taking over both thighs, legs, feet, groin, butt, stomach, and hands. The hives themselves lasted about 10 days, but the swelling had literally killed my skin. My entire body peeled for nearly a month in an effort to heal in the middle of summer. I was forced to wear long pants and shirts to hide the disgusting bruises and dead skin. I was in so much pain and felt defeated because the ER doctor didn’t seem to care and brushed it off as an allergy when I know in my heart that it has to be much more than just some stupid allergy. It wasn’t until someone asked me if I’d been tested for autoimmune diseases that I discovered I wasn’t alone. Over the past 3 years, I’ve gone from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital and I’ve found no answers. Due to my thyroid issues and my family history, I was tested for Graves Disease, which thankfully I don’t have. It seemed as though I was spending all this money on doctors and medicine but I wasn’t getting answers or relief. Then one day I stumbled upon a group of people that have experienced the same thing I have. I’m not crazy! One woman said she’s been having this issue for 10+ years. I’m only on year 3 so that isn’t exactly great news, but its comforting to talk to people that understand the pain I’m in.
The hardest part of this experience is the fact that it happens so often that when I complain about my pain, I feel like my family is over it. Its not a big deal to them because “its just another hive.” I hope that one day I can either find or invent a cure. Until then I will be keeping a detailed diary on my hives experience. #