Over 70% of Pai customers have a skin allergy or sensitivity.
Skin allergies are not only uncomfortable and distracting, but can also seriously impair our trust.
With this in mind, I thought I would start a blog series that deals with common skin complaints. I will discuss their symptoms and causes, as well as natural ways to control them so they don't control you.
Part one of the series will focus on an allergy in the immediate vicinity: urticaria.
With regard to the available advice, urticaria lives in the shadow of known conditions such as acne and eczema, which is why those affected are often left in the dark.
What is urticaria and what does it look like?
Urticaria, also known as hives, is an allergic rash that consists of raised bumpy red sores.
As with all allergies, the manifestations of urticaria vary from person to person, but I find that they are most common on my upper back and shoulder blades.
Although it never breaks the skin, the rash is extremely itchy and feels hot, making urticaria an unsightly and uncomfortable condition to live with.
Although the urticaria experience is different for everyone, there are probably three main types:
- Acute urticaria. Flares up pretty quickly after contact with an allergen and can take anywhere from a few hours to six weeks. Heat or exercise can be a trigger, but food allergies are usually the most common cause.
- Chronic urticaria. It is less likely to be caused by an allergy or a physical stimulus and lasts longer than six weeks. This type is called "idiopathic" (unknown cause), which can make diagnosis difficult.
- Physical urticaria. Triggered by a physical stimulus (from heat to water) and only lasts a few hours.
Most common triggers
Food allergies are usually the most common cause of acute urticaria, but can be a common problem.
Eggs, shellfish, tomatoes and nuts are usually the worst culprits. Alcohol can also be a trigger (especially wine in me!)
It is often recommended to keep a food diary for a month so that you can identify your personal intolerance.
Salicylates are another major cause and topic that I have written quite extensively about in the past.
Salicylates are found in a number of foods, but also in things like aspirin and paracetamol, which is why doctors always recommend avoiding these types of analgesics.
Urticaria often recedes when we are stressed or tired when our natural defenses weaken.
As I blogged last month, mind and body are interconnected, so maintaining a stable emotional balance can help reduce torches.
The most obvious trigger for me is physical wear. Urticaria sufferers tend to have skin so hypersensitive that the telltale red lines appear when rubbed or scratched. This reaction is known as dermatographism.
Chemicals in Our Environment
As is common with many people, the occurrence of urticaria generally made my skin hypersensitive.
After much research and testing, I identified some common ingredients in my beauty products that my skin really didn't respond well to – the worst offenders were synthetic preservatives (phenoxyethanol) and fragrances (perfume) in cosmetics
Pai was born in my search for an alternative!
Doctors often prescribe antihistamines as treatment – in severe cases they even prescribe two, one a day and one at night.
Antihistamines only provide temporary relief and are believed to thin the skin over the long term and make us more susceptible to relapses.
Quercitin is nature's anti-histamine and is considered a more effective alternative because it blocks the release of histamines and not only masks their effects. To find out exactly how it works, read my previous blog.
Other natural remedies are available. "Urtica" means "nettle" from Latin, and it is believed that nettle teas and other homeopathic nettle related treatments can also be beneficial.