Israel has never been shy of different reasons to be stressed. However, recently, a significant amount of stress has been added to all of our daily lives.
Stress is a natural part of life. However, if it starts to become a chronic issue, it can negatively impact our physical and mental health. It causes the body to release hormones like cortisol, which can impact the immune system and trigger inflammation, which in turn can trigger or worsen skin conditions like psoriasis and seborrhea.
Stress can also lead to acne and even vitiligo, which has long been known to be triggered by traumatic events like car crashes or severe mental stress.
Urticaria (hives) is also a skin disease that can come from stress. Israel is home to hundreds and thousands of patients, but it isn’t always recognized or correctly diagnosed and seems to not be as well-known.
Hives are a skin disease where red, itchy lesions appear on the surface of the skin, coming and going unexpectedly all over the body.
This itching is extremely severe and can impact the patient’s quality of life, from everything from sleep habits to concentration.
The trigger is hard to identify
There is often some confusion regarding the difference between hives, allergies and other skin diseases, so boosting public awareness is very important. If someone has an itchy rash that doesn’t go away, go see a dermatologist or an allergist, especially if they’re in a high-risk group. These groups include people with a family history of asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and more.
There are two types of hives: Acute and chronic. Acute urticaria is more common, where hives appear suddenly and end up disappearing within a few days. However, there is a chance of short but repeated flare-ups for months or years. Chronic urticaria is longer, lasting six weeks or more with zero respite.
Aside from stress and anxiety, other factors that could cause one to break out in hives include certain diseases and medication; contact with certain plants, animals or substances; and more.
However, it is very difficult to identify the trigger for hives in the vast majority of cases. This is why it’s important to undergo blood tests to make sure there are no preexisting conditions that could be causing it, and if there aren’t any, you can start treatment.
Hives aren’t usually considered life-threatening phenomenon when it shows up on places like the arms, legs, chest and abdominal area. However, in some cases, hives can also be accompanied by swelling under the skin.
This swelling is called angioedema and it can appear on one’s face, eyelids, lips, motuh, hands, legs, ears or genitals and it is sometimes associated with pain.
When hives break out in the respiratory tract or on one’s tongue, though, it can be life-threatening. This is because it can block the respiratory tract and stop you from breathing.
This is another warning sign you need to watch out for and if it happens, you need to see a doctor immediately, either at the health fund, clinic or emergency room.
How do you treat hives?
The first step to treating hives is using antihistamines, which can reduce inflammation.
Some antihistamines have a sedative effect so you shouldn’t take them before driving. The non-sedative ones can be given in higher doses.
In recent years, following changes to Israel’s health basket, there has been an increase with the use of steroids and other advanced medicine as treatments. This treatment is very effective and is taken one every four weeks.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with hives and the treatment doesn’t work, go see a dermatologist to help prescribe better treatment.
At any rate, if this really is a skin condition that was triggered by stress and anxiety, you should first and foremost identify the source of the stress and find healthy ways to deal with it.
The writer is a dermatologist and is a skin services coordinator of Clalit Health Services.