Hives and Hope

In July 2021, right before I went out of town for a few days, Kenn showed me that he had developed a few hives. We talked for a bit, but couldn’t come up with any ideas on what might have caused them. When I got back home, the hives were still an issue and were starting to worsen. He made an appointment with our GP who gave him steroids and a cream to put on the hives. No relief. Another trip to the GP resulted in no reduction in hives so Kenn was referred to an allergist. I am so thankful for the allergist; she is wonderful!

The first thing the allergist wanted to do was a full allergy test. However, that involved Kenn taking no antihistamines for seven days. He tried, but was unsuccessful. After two trips to the emergency room when his lips swelled and he had difficulty breathing, the testing was shelved indefinitely. Then began the process of finding the right mix of medications to get Kenn itch and hive free. The next couple of months were pretty miserable for him. Along the way we accidentally discovered that nylon seemed to make his symptoms worse. Do you have any idea how prevalent nylon is in clothing, etc.? Neither did we. Most of Kenn’s clothes were of the “wicking” variety which are predominately nylon. We had to replace his entire wardrobe and all of our towels and sheets, but the change, in addition to the medication, started to make a difference.

It is now 2023 and Kenn has been dealing with idiopathic urticaria, hives of an unknown origin, for almost two years. Earlier this year he was able to wean himself off of most of his meds while remaining symptom free for a few weeks. Then, the itching began again and he had to start increasing his dosages again. Thanks to a recommendation from one of my coworkers, Kenn contacted the allergist to see about scheduling an allergy test. So, last Wednesday, April 26th, Kenn had to cut out all antihistamines for seven days in order to have the test. The first couple of days were relatively easy, after that the hives, itching, and his usual seasonal allergy issues gradually worsened each day. Then yesterday, the day before the test was scheduled, he woke up with swollen lips and a number of hives. Since his lips were swollen, he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to go another day with no medication. We went to the allergist office as soon as it opened only to find that she was at a different branch. However, the admins sent her a message and told us to wait for a call back. We left to run some errands and got a call in less than fifteen minutes saying that if we could get to the other office, the doctor would work Kenn in. (Have I mentioned recently that she’s awesome?) Forty-five minutes later, we were in the office and the allergy test was underway.

This is what an allergy skin/scratch test looks like

I think we both would have cried if the test had shown that he had no allergies. It may sound wrong to be hoping to find a problem, but when that problem may lead to a better treatment for an existing condition…🤷‍♀️So, what were the results? Kenn is allergic to all three types of pollen: tree, grass, and weed. Living in Georgia means that he is exposed to all of them twelve months out of the year. Seriously. It never gets cold enough here to make all plants go dormant so allergy season here is year round. Where do we go from here? Kenn will begin receiving allergy shots in a couple of weeks; the shots are designed to desensitize an allergy sufferer to their allergens. Of course, the allergist can’t promise that the allergy shots will completely clear up Kenn’s hives, but she is hopeful. There’s a good chance that Kenn’s constant exposure to his allergens eventually became too much for his immune system to handle and it reacted in the only way it could. We understand that the shots will take time to become effective, but we are still looking forward to discovering the impact that they will have. (Oh, he also has a slight allergy to eggs and egg whites, but it’s not at the level of severity as his pollen allergy.)

Here’s hoping that you too have some happiness and hope in your week – preferably without getting “scratched” by multiple sharp, pointy objects!

14 thoughts on “Hives and Hope

  1. So it wasn’t nylon at all? Both my dog and I have had those tests. For me, it’s upper respiratory and shellfish that could be deadly. For the dog it was hives from orange trees…a real problem in SoCal (she was also allergic to bluegrass, but that’s not such a problem out here). The dog got allergy shots; I got an epipen.

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    • The nylon definitely played a role, we’re just not sure how. When we told the allergist about the nylon, she didn’t think it had anything to do with his issue. However, we know that switching to cotton made a difference. According to the allergist, the allergens themselves don’t cause the hives; they cause itching which in turn causes scratching. Apparently, the friction/scratching causes the hives. Now we’re wondering if the nylon itself kept the pollen in closer contact with his skin leading to more scratching, etc. The whole friction thing does explain why his hives always appear first around his waistband – there is always friction there from both underwear and clothes.🤷‍♀️

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  2. I feel for you and Kenn. Mississippi is similar to Georgia in many ways, and we deal with pollen most of the year and mold all the time. I hope the shots help. Randy did that routine for several years, but he has not needed to in a while, though he takes his allergy med still. Sending good wishes east to you!

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  3. I am here to tell you that allergy shots do work. I started taking them in 1975 for Summer allergies (ragweed mostly, but grass … if anyone cut the grass on the street, I’d be miserable). I went from once-a-week shots to monthly and stayed in that regimen until December 1995, when the allergist was retiring – he said you can wean yourself off the shots for good Linda. (Well, great … because you’re retiring.) He said the allergist taking over his practice would not have Saturdays, evenings or hours like his, so I’d have to miss work. Happily I finished the shots. Eight years later, we had a rainy Spring and I sneezed like crazy – thought it was the weather, but in 2004 I had all the allergy symptoms I had before only in the Spring so I had the needle test like the first time and started back on shots. I was up to every four weeks and did that forever until Covid. He was not open, then went to appointment only – stupid as it was always just a walk-in, a five-minute appointment. I suspended my shots in Winter the last three years as I only sneeze in Spring and take an OTC pill (Alavert 24) whether I’m on shots or not.

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    • Thanks! The first few months were definitely rough. We’re really hoping the immunotherapy will eventually allow him to reduce the amount of medications he is on. It would also help if we didn’t live in the absolute worst area for someone with allergies of this nature. I wonder if I can convince him to move?🤔


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