After experiencing and living with my own severe symptoms of cholinergic urticaria (heat hives), I have finally found the answer. It dawned on me, then I tested it, then it worked, and then I immediately googled it and found this forum and everything I am reading on here confirmed my theory. IT’S BECAUSE OF BLOCKED SWEAT GLANDS. Here’s my story:
I was highly active all my life (3-sport athlete as a child through high school, followed by year round college baseball). It was safe to say I sweat significantly essentially everyday. Then, I graduated. I took a break from my constant hustle and bustle, sadly to the point where I actually hadn’t broke a significant sweat for several months. Then one day, I changed things up–I went on a bike ride. That’s when it hit me.
The “pins and needles” sensation was overwhelming. Never had a felt so much pure discomfort in my life. At first I thought it was a result of dry skin and the dry fall weather. However, it happened again and again and again, every time I got warm, nervous, or started to sweat even a tiny bit for any reason. I literally avoided getting warm from that point on; wearing t-shirts outside in 40 degree weather to avoid the horrible sensation. When I finally found the label for my curse– cholinergic urticaria (heat hives)–I thought I had solved my problem! I went to the dermatologist, but to my horror, they said it had an unknown cause and couldn’t be cured. They prescribed an antihistamine (which helped very moderately), but I was still scared to feel warm because of the horrible sensation that still occurred. That’s when I solved it, and here’s how I did it.
There were several things throughout my year of intense heat hives:
(1) I took a week vacation to humid Florida, and I had no heat hives there, but as soon as I returned, it was back.
(2) I live in Wisconsin, and our summer’s are hot and humid. I had barely any symptoms throughout the summer.
(3) Once the dry fall air returned, it was back.
So what are the common factors? Hot + Humid = no itching; and it made sense. With these three bits of evidence (in addition to the fact that as soon as I stopped my active lifestyle and began to itch), I concluded that the dryness of my skin coupled with the lack of sweat flow was clogging up my pores. To make matters worse, I had actually developed a separate yet fairly common skin condition known as tinea versicolor, where essentially the naturally existing yeast on my skin had grown out of control and had covered a large portion of my back and chest. I realized this was acting just like a further blockage of my sweat glands. In fact, I tested it out and I could not even sweat out of the areas that were covered by tinea versicolor. Interestingly enough, these areas were “the most itchy”, even though my entire body exhibited the horrible pins and needles sensation.
So what was my solution? STEAM ROOM. I read that steam rooms are great for dry and itchy skin and help with numerous skin issues. Not only that, but I figured it would be a perfect way to test my theory of clearing out my sweat glands.
I scampered off to my local health club, and spent two consecutive days (10 mins per day) in the 110 degree 100% humidity room. By the end of each 10 minute sensation, it’s safe to say my sweat glands were as wide open as they could be and sweat was pouring out of them at the rate of white water rapids. I experienced no itching whatsoever during these sessions (the reason I believe being that the humidity levels were so astronomically high). This actually surprised me because normally when I shower and start to get hot, I experience the itching sensation, but not in the steam room.
In summary, after two days of steam room therapy, I literally was healed. It’s been a week, and I’ve exercised multiple times (in Wisconsin dry winter air!). I haven’t been itchy once.
Moral of the story? GO TO A STEAM ROOM AND SWEAT YOUR PORES OUT OF THEIR MINDS. The sweat unclogs your itchy sweat pores, and the humidity further aids in dry skin relief and relieves itchiness.
Now, I plan to go to the steam room every week for the rest of my life. I also can’t wait to see my dermatologist and tell him the solution to this horrendous curse of a situation.
(Editor’s note: please check with a doctor before attempting sweat therapy or steam room therapy, as it may not be safe for all individuals, such as those with anhidrosis, a history of anaphylaxis, or other concurrent medical conditions).