The following forum post was submitted by a reader:
I first experienced the symptoms of cholinergic urticaria about four years ago, although I have never had a rash, hives or any reddening or welts to the skin. I have tingling and itchy arms or torso and it is triggered only by showering, never in a bathtub (which we don’t have) or a swimming pool. At it’s height I get waves during the day or night too.
I have ‘episodes’ once a year and they last for a few months, normally in the summer, which would correlate with the over heating of the body. However, I live in the tropics, the Caribbean coast of Mexico and spend most of my time hot, but I don’t have this condition all the time. In fact it came back today and the temperature/humidity has actually recently dropped here as we come into fall.
But possibly the trigger for me could be stress and anxiety. I have recently resigned from a very stressful job, due to – well, the stress – and for the past nearly two weeks have been holed up in my apartment trying to decompress. When I say “holed up,” I mean exactly that, I am borderline agoraphobic and just “want to be alone!” So perhaps the fact my skin has had zero sun (I read this may influence things) and I have not been outside where I get hot and sweaty. Maybe I need to sweat regularly to prevent it? Who knows!
But I have very tingly ‘pins and needles’ in my hands which feels like nerve pain, and I also get that when I get a fright. When my husband brakes suddenly in the car and I yelp, I get a wave of the pins and needles over my hands. Weird. Adrenaline I guess, but the cholinergic urticaria feels similar, and having browsed the forum I see some comments about adrenaline. After the initial random tingling and uncomfortable prickling I then get a feeling of burning, like acid being wiped over my skin. I don’t get it on my back, I get it on my neck up to my exact jaw line, but not my face, the worse areas are arms, legs and torso. Regarding histamine, I often wonder if mosquito bites have anything to do with it, as they have been itching more recently.
I am also a ‘highly strung’ person, quite anxious is a norm and I have battled, quite literally, with anxiety/depression for many years. As a 44-year-old now though, I’ve accepted it as part of my personality and try to work with it. I also have medium OCD, which causes me anxiety, so again this is linking to many thinks I have read about in the forum.
When I first had an episode I thought it was an allergy, had I changed my laundry liquid etc. But I’ve never been allergic to anything! I researched and came up with hives, but as I didn’t have the rashes I thought it might be something else. But finally this CU diagnosis seems to fit the symptoms, even though I can’t see or feel any raised rashes or actual ‘hives’.
I did see a doctor here a few years back, who tested me for thyroid issues, which came back normal, my brother-in-law is a GP, a couple of years back he prescribed aspirin and antihistamine.
I’m hoping this episode wont last long, as it is very draining. I try to explain that to my husband, who works long hours, but I don’t think he gets it. I’m tired after an episode following a shower and really grumpy! It puts a real pressure on us, making me feel selfish as I am moody afterwards and leads me to want to stay indoors even more! It’s surprisingly very incapacitating, considering it’s ‘hives’. I guess as there is no treatment as such or cure, quite overwhelming.
I’m glad to have found this forum though, apologies for my epic first post! I guess I am lucky I have time to relax to get over it this time, or ‘manage’ it as well as I can.