Hives are elevated, itchy, red or skin-coloured rashes. They arise as the body’s immune system responds to allergens and releases histamine (a protein) into the bloodstream from small capillaries and other chemicals. Histamine bloats the small vessels of the blood and causes the plasma to spill through the skin. If it builds up in the skin, this fluid can lead to inflammation and cause tingly condition on the skin surface.
Postpartum hives resemble other skin rashes such as eczema. The other name for hives is urticaria, nettle rash, or weals. The hives usually occur in the arms, legs or our back. Women poset delivery may show such symptoms. However, the reasons for the occurrence of the hives may differ in individuals. Postpartum hives can be experienced during the last month of gestation or even after childbirth.
Common reasons for hives could also be an allergic reaction or due to psychological reasons like stress. Hives indicate an imbalance of the immune system. People can even get postpartum hives even if there was no existence of any reaction before. It usually goes away in a short span of time.
Allergic reactions are the most common reason for hives. if you had allergies before, mild or strong, they may worsen post-delivery. This happens due to hormonal changes which also impact the immune system. a weak immune system can also attract germs and bacteria and result in various kinds of infections. Pregnant women are sensitive to weather changes and can catch a cold easily.
There is no study to support or reason out the reason for the occurrence of postpartum hives. One may develop these hives when exposed to the above-mentioned causes. Anecdotal evidence indicates that the risk of postpartum hives, although may not be the case for all women, it may rise after birth and due to stress.
Women who are prone to allergies have a higher tendency to have a milk reflex during breastfeeding. Symptoms such as redness, rash, itching, hives in the chest, arms and legs could be the consequence of this condition. Normally after pregnancy, there is no cause for concern about hives as they get cured soon. However, if you suspect you have developed hives because of an allergic reaction, avoid allergens to prevent hives from recurring. However do not ignore if rashes are abnormal, are too numerous, or have occurred often.
Postpartum hives symptoms
Postpartum hives include the following symptoms:
- One can have rashes on their face, neck, back, stomach, chest, legs or in any part of the body.
- One can have flat hives or swollen hives or both on their skin.
- Rough, eczema-like textured skin
- These bumps can also whiten out on pressing.
- Postpartum hives can be in the form of a single welt or patches on the skin or flat bumps.
- These hives can be red, pink or skin colour
Postpartum hives causes
There could be several reasons for developing skin rashes or postpartum hives on the skin. The most common reasons are hormonal changes or stress that could trigger such reactions.
Other reasons for these conditions could be:
- Acute medical conditions, such as thyroid
- Exposure to extreme heat (such as the sun) or cold conditions
- Sluggish liver
- Medicines like aspirin or penicillin
- Food sensitivities
- Urinary tract infections
- Wearing tight clothes
- Insect bites or stings
- Hepatitis or influenza virus
- Seasonal allergies
- Panic attack
- Change in temperature
- Too much exposure to the sun
Hives usually getaway soon but it may vary from individual to individual. Some might get cured within hours and some might take a day, it depends on how long the body takes to fight the allergens. If you are or you develop an allergy with something, the hives may occur again. In the case of postpartum hives which arise due to an imbalance in the liver, it might take a few weeks to get cured completely.
Postpartum hives treatment
Postpartum hives do not require any medical treatment, however, one can take certain measure to get some relief from itching and burning sensation.
- Wear light cotton clothes
- Use over the counter (OTC) topical creams that may soothe red and itchy bumps
- Take rest to avoid stress and anxiety
- Apply sunscreen lotion before going out in the sun
- Avoid using harsh soaps, lotions, and detergents
- Icepack application
- Place a humidifier or cold compress to soothe the affected skin region
- Drink enough water
- Clove oil
The doctor may also recommend certain medicines or ointment to the patients suffering from postpartum hives:
- Skin steroid cream (eg. betamethasone valerate)
- An antihistamine (eg. pheniramine)
- Anti-itch lotion
- Steroid medication (eg. prednisolone in cases of serious swelling and itching)
- Allergy medications
- A medication called ursodeoxycholic acid for hives(or Udiliv, only in case of serious liver imbalance.
Medical research has proved that steroid creams like betamethasone valerate and allergy medication like antihistamine are beneficial in curing postpartum hives.
One can also adopt certain home remedies to get some relief during postpartum hives. These home remedies include:
- Taking bath with lukewarm water.
- Using lotions that have natural ingredients
- If you are allergic to certain things, stay away from them
- Using a wet cloth to pat the infected area gently
- Take enough sleep
- Apply aloe vera gel to get a soothing effect on the infected area
- Wearing loose clothes which help the oxygen to breath
However, if one continues to experience discomfort after trying these remedies, they must consult the doctor as it may require immediate medical attention. In case you have:
- Swelling in face, lips, tongue, mouth, or throat
- Anaphylaxis symptoms
- Difficulty in breathing
In case you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you must visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Hives indicate an allergic reaction in your body. Although there could be several other reasons for the occurrence of hives. One may even develop allergies they have never had before, which can result in hives or rashes on the skin. In case, you have a severe postpartum hive or other diseases, you might need medical attention. Do not apply or take any medication without the doctor’s prescription, especially suing breast-feeding.