I now have my cholinergic urticaria under control totally. I can live again!
In my personal view, the best way to manage cholinergic urticaria is to attack it directly. In order to accomplish this, I have tried to eliminate all sources of inflammatory causing agents–whether it is food, dry skin, environment, etc.
Therefore, I wanted to put together this comprehensive “checklist” of things I have done/are doing now. If you are suffering, then I highly recommend you try everything on this list over time (if possible). It has been a miracle for me. Even if it seems really small or insignificant, it may make a huge difference in your hives. As always, please talk to a doctor first for safety, and to make sure these things are okay for you to try.
Again, even if something seems silly or insignificant, don’t discount the impact it may have until you have tried it.
I can’t guarantee this will help, cure, or make any difference at all. But after years of trying to “cure” this, and trying nearly everything in the book, I finally have this under control. Whatever you do, don’t get depressed, give up, or lose hope. It is worth the struggle! Hang in there.
Update: Here’s a video explaining how I cured my hives:
WARNING: I am not a doctor, and the information on this page is not medical advice. Do not try this before asking a doctor whether or not it would be safe for you.
Here we go:
Cholinergic Urticaria Treatment Checklist
1. Skin Care with Cholinergic Urticaria
Cholinergic urticaria (hives) takes place in the skin. You skin is the battlefield on which your hives war will be fought. Therefore, it only makes sense to start treating your skin with the care it deserves. This is vitally important in the cold winter months, although it helps in the warmer months as well. As you can see from the picture below, that is what my hives used to look like. They were very severe, and while I could occasionally sweat, I could never maintain it.
Now I can maintain sweat, keep my eczema and itchy bumps I used to get in remission, and more.
Here’s how to do it the right way:
- Fingernails–If you have hives attacks, keep the nails trimmed. Otherwise your skin is going to get chapped and beaten half to death by your nails each time you scratch. Keep them trim and neat to prevent further skin damage. Avoid scratching as much as possible, and rub your skin with your fingertips instead of your nails if you must scratch.
- Shower Temperature–I now take only cold showers. Sounds crazy–and isn’t pleasant, but yes–I take them cold. Hot water leeches out the oils in your skin and dry it out. Also, hot water (sitting in your water heater and pipes), dissolve minerals. These minerals will reach high concentrations, and when you shower, your body will be covered in these chemicals (which may be chlorine, lead, copper, magnesium, calcium). These can not only dry and irritate your skin, but could also put your immune system on edge. I place a small heater in my bathroom for 30 minutes or so until the room is very warm before I shower. Then I take a shower as cold as I can take it, and as quickly as I can take it.
- Shower Filter–You can buy inexpensive shower filters for about $15-30 that will remove most of the chlorine from the water. They also help to remove some of the minerals/scale as well, and soften the water. These can make a huge difference. Mine is a Culligan brand I bought on Amazon for about $15. I highly recommend you do this to help keep your skin in great shape. This is especially true if you live in an area that puts a lot of chlorine in the water, or has hard water. They are easy to install, and usually do not even require tools. Water softeners are also great to remove minerals and scale, but they are much more expensive. Even so, I still recommend a shower filter to catch any debris or chlorine that escapes the water softener.
- Soap/Shampoo–I use a hypoallergenic moisturizing soap by Dove. I also recommend a good quality shampoo as well that will moisturize your hair/scalp. Even the best soaps can dry out your skin, so only use it thickly in areas where you need to get clean. You may want to only soap your whole body every other day, and wash the necessary parts daily. Also, use a very soft cotton cloth and gently rub your skin when you shower. Avoid abrasive scrub cloths or sponges.
- Shower Frequency–Try to shower no more than 1 time per day. Perhaps every other day when you can.
- Towel–Use a very soft cotton towel (like a terry cloth) to dry your skin. Pat your skin dry–don’t rub.
- Lotion–Eucerin Calming Creme. This stuff is amazing. Specifically get this, because it is recommended by doctors for people with eczema, rosacea, dry skin, hives, and all sorts of issues. It keeps a nearly 5 star rating on Amazon.com, and gets glowing reviews. Use it 2 times DAILY in the winter. 1 time per day in the summer. Always apply right after the shower. I apply it after a shower in the morning, and right before bed at night.
- Vaporizer/Humidifier–This is really important in the winter when humidity levels drop. Run a humidifier or vaporizer at night in your room. This will help moisturize your skin and nasal passages, and probably help you to sleep. Either will work fine. I prefer a vaporizer because it also puts out a small amount of heat, and is easier to clean and maintain. You can get a brand new vaporizer for about $17. Humidifiers are a bit more costly at about $30-50, but also work well so long as you maintain them and clean it regularly. Keep in mind that vaporizer puts out steam, so if you have children or pets, place it in a location where they can’t burn themselves.
- Use hypoallergenic Detergent–Use a good hypoallergenic detergent for all of your wash cloths, towels, and clothes. I use a brand by ALL, and it works really well. This will help cut out the possibility of having issues with dyes, scents, or chemicals used in most detergents.
- Beware of Products–You always want to consider any products you use daily and make sure they aren’t irritating your skin. This can include hand soaps, make-up, cologne or perfume, deodorant, acne treatments, and similar products. Many of these type of products can dry the skin and cause irritation.
2. Environmental Care for Cholinergic Urticaria
Aside from general skin control, there are a few environmental factors you want to consider when dealing with this cholinergic urticaria.
- Dust Mites/Bed Bugs/Bed Sheets–I strongly recommend dust mite-proof bedding. I got mine in early 2011. I recommend you avoid vinyl, as this can stink terribly at first, and may not be as safe as less gassy plastics. Get ones that cover your upper mattress, and your pillows. Wash your bed sheets at least every 2 weeks (preferably ever week) in a hypoallergenic detergent.
- Seasonal Allergies–Try to avoid any of your known season allergies as much as possible. I know this can be difficult, but do what you can to minimize exposure to your seasonal triggers such as pollen, etc.
- Pets–I love animals to death, but I’d never live with one in the same house. My mother has 5 dogs, and they stay inside. They bring in all sorts of pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and whatever else they roll around in outside. She has to constantly clean, and it can get quite dirty/dusty. I know most people love pets, but if you can, it would probably be best to avoid getting indoor pets. If you do get a pet and keep it outside, please have the decency to make sure it has proper shelter/food.
Clothing Care for Cholinergic Urticaria
Here are some tips about clothing. What you wear can have a big impact (more than you would think) on whether or not you will react. So here we go:
- Avoid Excessive Detergent and Use Hypoallergenic Products-It is a good idea to avoid excessive detergents, starches, etc. I prefer to use just enough so I don’t stink lol. Seriously, if you use too much, it can harden your clothes and leave a residue on them. So I would use just enough to get them clean.
- Wear Thin Clothing– When I am going out, I always wear really thin clothing. I wear a really thin shirt, and shorts on a warm day. Sandals help the feet get rid of excess body heat better than normal shoes, which will keep your core temperature down. On cold days, I usually wear thin clothing, but add layers that I can quickly remove if I get hot (such as a jacket). This is most important if you still suffer with hives. If they go away, this isn’t as big of a deal.
- Colors Count- Think “Light”– I made a post a long time ago about how the color of clothing makes a huge deal in sunlight. Try to go for whites & bright colors. This reflects the sun’s rays and prevents you from getting hot. If you wear black or dark colors, you are literally asking for a quick reaction.
- Avoid Thick Hats– I don’t wear hats much, but if I have a bad hair day I may throw on a baseball cap. I have noticed that when wearing it, it makes me more reactive. This is because a lot of body heat escapes from the scalp. If a hat is being worn, it can trap the heat in, making us more hot. If you have to wear a hat, try to go for a light colored one. You could also potentially wet your hair before putting one on, or using a small/flat cooler pack under the hat (it can help keep you cool).
- Wear Comfy Fabrics– I like to wear soft & thin cotton t-shirts. I often wear cotton jeans/khaki shorts too. This helps my skin feel better. I can’t stand to wear a “Scratchy” feeling shirt. It is terrible. I avoid them at all cost. This is a reason why I don’t wear sweaters much. So I definitely recommend wearing clothes that are breathable and feel comfortable.
- Moisture “Wick” Shirts Can Help Some– At this point I have not purchased any moisture wick shirts, or any clothing that helps to induce sweating. However, a few people have indicated that they can help prevent an attack. It doesn’t work on areas the shirt doesn’t touch (the neck or face), but it can help some in the areas the shirt does touch.
3. Diet Modification and Supplements
While I’ve tried countless experiments with diet over the years (many of them proving inconclusive or failing), by far I consider diet the main contributor to my hives remission. I have done many trials with an allergy elimination diet.
My current diet is extremely healthy. The basic idea here is the following:
- Eat only healthy foods
- Avoid most all processed foods (ie, packaged foods and snacks, or foods with additives in them)
- Avoid any food high in histamine
- Avoid any food that upsets my stomach, causes a rash, or seems to make my hives worse
- Avoid major allergens, which my body does not digest well or that cause me inflammation (milk, wheat/gluten, dyes, preservatives, etc).
- Read labels for good nutrition
- Eat within my calorie range for health
- Reduce excessive sugar, salt, etc.
As of right now, the diet that seems to work best for me consists of the following foods:
- Meat: turkey (mostly in the form of frozen turkey breast). I buy turkey frozen with no hormones. These are usually cooked in a crockpot overnight after I first thaw it in the fridge.
- Veggies: sweet potatoes, broccoli, squash, zucchini
- Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, bananas,
- Drinks: Smoothies (with the above fruit), Water
- Supplements: Digestive Advantage Probiotic, Centrum Multivitamin, Vitamin D3, Calcium (only because I can’t eat dairy)
- Calories: I recommend eating within a safe calorie range. I eat within my calorie range, and try to maintain it.
- Avoid oils: Very rarely will I eat any oils at all. Perhaps every 1-3 weeks I will use a slight amount of sunflower oil to my popcorn.
- Avoid condiments/seasonings as much as possible. These often contain “natural flavors” and hidden ingredients that your body may be having an adverse reaction to.
That is basically all I am eating right now. It is pretty healthy (lean), and it tastes great if you can believe it. I make 100% sure that all foods do not have excessive ingredients, do not have allergens in them, etc.
4. Exercise Regularly
Lastly, good old fashioned exercise helps my body stay in shape, maintain a great sweat, boosts my self esteem, and more. Everyone that can exercise safely with hives should try to do so regularly. If you experience swelling, or if your doctor has told you to avoid it, then by all means please do not exercise. You should always get medical advice before starting a new exercise program.
As of right now, I basically workout about 3 times per week. I do about 15-30 minutes of cardio, and then lift weights. I recommend an exercise bike (or treadmill) in your home. I’ve written a post about that (see links below). I also have an awesome weight bench (FID46), of which I wrote an in-depth review on this site as well (use the search if you’re interested).
Since I’ve blogged extensively on how I was able to first exercise, then I won’t go into any more detail here. But you can find more about the best exercise to lose visceral fat, how to exercise with cholinergic urticaria, and the best cardio workouts (in my opinion).
Finally, this post is a useful one with people sharing their hives cure.
Conclusion: My Hives are Gone
This is a comprehensive post on pretty much everything I’ve done to keep my hives gone. I can sweat normally, shop, exercise, have fun, take vacations, etc–without fear of cholinergic urticaria.
I do or have done pretty much everything on the list above. I’d recommend that if you have hives, you may want to consult with a doctor and try some of the above. I’ve suffered with this nearly 11 years total, and only now have I been able to get it under control (by the grace of God).
I do not have to take medications/antihistamines (other than simple supplements I mention above), and I do not have to “force sweat out” by enduring a painful attack (although that does apparently work well for some people). I can basically start exercising or go outside and go straight into sweating. My stomach aches and eczema rashes I used to get from time to time are also gone.
For what it’s worth, I hope this helps you, or anyone suffering from a physical urticaria. May God bless you.