Hives is characterized by the sudden appearance of hard round or oval lumps in the skin, from the size of a pea to that of a silver dollar, of a pinkish white color, or white in the center and often surrounded by a red blush. The rash is accompanied by much itching, burning, or tingling, especially at night when the clothes are removed. The peculiarity of this eruption is the suddenness with which the rash appears and disappears; the itching, the whitish or red lumps, the fact that the eruption affects any part of the body and does not run together, are also characteristic. Scratching of the skin often brings out the lumps in a few minutes. The swellings may last a few minutes or hours, and suddenly disappear to reappear in some other place. The whole trouble usually continues only a few days, although at times it becomes a chronic affection.
Scratching alters the character of the eruption, and causes red, raw marks and crusts, but the ordinary swellings can be seen usually in some part of the body. Rarely, the eruption comes in the throat and leads to sudden and sometimes dangerous swelling, so that suffocation has ensued. With hives there are no fever, sore throat, backache, headache, which are common to the contagious eruptive disorders, as measles, scarlet fever, etc.
Indigestion is the most frequent cause. Certain articles of diet are almost sure to bring on an attack of hives in susceptible persons; these include shellfish, clams, lobsters, crabs, rarely oysters; also oatmeal, buckwheat cakes, acid fruits, particularly strawberries, but sometimes raspberries and peaches. Nettlerash is common in children, and may follow any local irritation of the skin caused by rough clothes, bites of mosquitoes and fleas, and the stings of jellyfish, Portuguese man of war, and nettles.
Treatment. Remove any source of irritation in the digestive canal, or externally, and employ a simple diet for a few days, as bread and milk.
A dose of castor oil, one teaspoonful for children; one tablespoonful for adults, or some other cathartic is advisable. Locally we use, as domestic remedies, a saturated solution of baking soda (or saleratus) in water, or equal parts of alcohol or vinegar and water to relieve the itching. The bath containing soda and starch is the most useful treatment when the nettlerash is general. Calamine lotion is one of the best applications which can be employed for this disorder. It should be sopped on frequently with a soft cloth and allowed to dry on the skin.
Zinc oxide 1/4 ounce Powdered calamine 1/4 ” Limewater 6 ounces
Mix and shake before applying to the skin.
If choking is threatened, give an emetic of mustard, one teaspoonful, and warm water, half a pint.