heave-ho the hives

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MANY OF US HAVE HAD HIVES at one point in our lives. These red, prickling skin welts can be a reaction to common allergens like nuts, eggs, shellfish, soy, wheat, and milk. If you have no history of food allergies, you might be reacting to medication, perfumes, chemicals, food additives, insect bites, stress, or anxiety. (Less frequent triggers are heat, cold, and physical activity.) Identifying and avoiding the culprit is the best way to prevent hives, and over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl and Claritin are helpful when you do have an outbreak. For prevention and treatment, also try these natural remedies.

Legend for Chart:
A - COLLOIDAL OATMEAL BATH
B - OOLONG TEA
C - HYPNOTHERAPY & RELAXATION
what
A: In colloidal oatmeal products, oats are pulverized so fine they
remain suspended in liquid. This allows the oatmeal to bind to
your skin in the bath, providing a moisturizing and soothing
protective barrier.
B: Drinking tea can boost your immune system against allergies.
C: There's a strong relationship between chronic hives and
depression, stress, and anxiety, according to the Service de
Dermatologie, Hôpital Tarnier-Cochin, Paris.
evidence
A: Colloidal oatmeal is one of the few natural ingredients the FDA
has cited to be effective in providing relief and protection for
itchy and irritated skin.
B: All tea — green, black, and oolong — has been shown to
Suppress allergic reactions in laboratory studies. But according to
researchers at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University
of Shizuoka, Japan, oolong tea has unique and potent
phytochemicals that have an antihistamine effect.
C: In a study published in The Archives of Dermatology, 40 percent of
long-time hives sufferers who underwent relaxation techniques and
followed up with hypnotherapy reported they became free of hives;
the others had a lessening of symptoms.
caveats
A: There are no known side effects. Just make sure your bathwater is
lukewarm; hot water will further Irritate hives. (Although it's
rare, oatmeal can cause contact dermatitis in some people.)
B: None.
C: Hypnosis works best on those whose hives are brought on by
psychological factors. Keep in mind that some people don't
respond to hypnosis at all.
using it
A: It's not possible to grind oats fine enough in a kitchen
appliance, so try Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment ($8,
www.aveeno.com) or ShiKai moisturizing shower gels ($8,
www.shikai.com). Add as directed to tub water and soak for at
least 10 minutes.
B: In a study at Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, skin
allergy sufferers got beneficial effects after two weeks from
drinking oolong tea — steeped for five minutes — three
times a day after meals.
C: Start with at least one initial session with a professional
hypnotist, and follow up with guided relaxation tools such as the
Progressive Relaxation & Autogenic Training CD by Carolyn
McManus ($16, www.omozon.com).

PHOTO (COLOR)

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By Angela Hynes

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