I think all parents can agree with me when I say that I hate it when my kids get sick. Thankfully my oldest son, who normally would have caught a few colds, coughs and stomach bugs by this time of the year, has been pretty healthy. (I’m actually thrilled about this and know it is because we eliminated soy and gluten from his diet after doing an allergy blood test.) My little, however, has had one bug after another.
It started with a cold sometime in the beginning of October. After a few days he was better, and then had a stomach bug one morning. (He threw up on a Monday morning and was fine by the afternoon – he’s a tough little guy!) Next came… a giant, freakish rash!
How it started.
Friday. It started coming in on a Friday with just a few little red dots here and there. It didn’t look like a rash.
Saturday. In the evening, I noticed his back had some red spots clustered. It was beginning to look rashy. We still hoped it was nothing but were beginning to get concerned. I thought about trying some essential oils but decided to leave it alone. I was not sure if the rash was a virus or just hives and wanted to see if his body could handle it. He also started getting really acidic bowel movements on Saturday, which was causing him painful diaper rash.
Sunday. On Sunday, things only got worse. It became a full-blown rash on his trunk with big blotches of red all over and he was starting to itch. I was using this Florasone cream on it as needed when I saw him itching. He also was still getting really painful diaper rash due to acidic poops. He was a mess! We gave him an oatmeal bath before bed and I tried a little test spot on his shoulder blades of coconut oil mixed with Lavender Essential Oil. I just swiped my hand inside his shirt so it was nothing regimented. We were still unsure if this rash was hives from an allergy or if it was caused by a virus. We decided to give his body one more night to try to kick it with no intervention.
Monday. On Monday morning the rash had spread all over his legs and arms and was starting to get on his face. He had no fever and was his normal happy self, with the exception of terrible diaper rash caused by his burny poops. I called his pediatrician and they confirmed it was hives, stating there is no way to tell what causes them. She instructed me to give him Benadryl until they were clear. She also recommended we take him for allergy testing. While I really don’t like giving my kids over-the-counters, in this case his rash was so bad we gave him a dose. I felt it was too serious to experiment with a natural antihistamine. I also slathered him in the Lavender and coconut oil mixture, applying it twice a day and more where he was itching.
How to know if you are dealing with hives.
The American Academy of Pediatrics explains:
Hives are welts on the skin that often itch. These welts can appear on any part of the skin. Hives vary in size from as small as a pen tip to as large as a dinner plate. They may connect to form even larger welts. A hive often goes away in 24 hours or less. New hives may appear as old ones fade, so hives may last for a few days or longer. A bout of hives usually lasts less than 6 weeks. These hives are called acute hives… Acute hives often result from an allergy, but they can have many other causes.
Please be sure there is no fever present and the person affected is otherwise feeling normal. If there is a fever you could be dealing with something more severe. A call or visit to your doctor is a good idea just to make sure it is hives and not something else.
Finding what caused the hives.
As the pediatrician explained, there are so many causes of hives that it is impossible to determine exactly what caused them. Being an over-analytic mother, however, I am pretty sure I can figure at least most of the reasons why.
According to the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch,
Most cases of hives are brought on as allergic reactions and coincide with the release of histamine in the body. The release of histamine into the skin produces an inflammatory reaction, with itching, swelling and redness. Hives can cause significant discomfort, but it does not cause injury or damage to any vital organs.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is an important part of the excretory system. The skin acts in conjunction with other systems in the body to remove toxins and waste. Hives can be a natural reaction to the presence of a foreign substance in the body. However, an offending substance need not enter the body to trigger an outbreak of hives. Merely coming into contact with various substances… can unleash a maddening attack of hives.”
In addition to allergic reactions to food, pesticides, chemicals in personal care products, laundry products and cleaning products can all cause hives. Viruses and antibiotics are also listed as possible causes of hives.
Once I was sure we were dealing with hives, I began reviewing everything I was feeding my son and trying to figure out what could be causing his rash. I hadn’t changed anything in my laundry or cleaning routines and so I assumed the cause was something he was ingesting. I had already been noticing he was eating too much baked treats, bread, and pasteurized dairy such as cheese and organic yogurt. These are acidic foods. Normally we don’t eat any dairy except for our non-homogenized milk or a tiny bit of sour cream. Unfortunately I was in a cooking rut and I was giving my kids one or two servings of dairy a day because they weren’t eating the things I normally make. This meant my son was eating less veggies because he was filling up on the other foods. Veggies are very alkalizing and can balance out an acidic diet. I personally can feel when I eat too much acidic foods that I need some greens to balance me out… so when my kids are only eating grains and dairy it makes me a little wary. The fact he had acidic poops and really bad diaper rash was verifying my suspicion that he was eating too many acidic foods.
On Monday I also checked my Reference Guide for Essential Oils to make sure I was using the right oil for hives. Lo and behold, it states, “Hives may be the result of too much acid in the blood…” It also recommends diluting tea tree, peppermint or lavender essential oils topically. Lavender is considered the most gentle oil which is why I chose it to use on my toddler. I would not use tea tree or peppermint on a child under six.
To adjust his diet, I cut out dairy right away. I also checked the label on the bread we buy and of course, the third ingredient was egg whites. I purposely never feed him egg whites because it causes his eczema to flare on his face, but I had been giving him this bread daily not thinking that it had egg whites in it. (His eczema never showed up, so I didn’t even think about it.) I had even given him a small sandwich before bed on Sunday night, when the hives were in full swing! Doh! I cut all sources of egg whites from his diet, including any baked goods. The book Prescription for Nutritional Healing recommends alcohol, all processed foods, sugary foods, dairy, eggs, chicken and nuts be avoided.
Treating the hives to promote fast healing.
As I mentioned above, I decided to try using a 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil mixed with two drops of Lavender Essential Oil on Sunday night. My son is a 30 lb. 2-year-old, so adjust accordingly. The next morning the test spots were clear! Check out this picture:
Because he reacted well to the Lavender oil, on Monday I applied this three times all over his body, morning, noon and night. The reason I first tried a test spot on him is because the brand I used recommends to be careful on sensitive/ irritated skin. I am really happy the way the Lavender application went. I recommend doing a test spot to make sure you have the proper dilution and no reaction will develop.
We gave our son two doses of Benadryl on Monday, just to be sure we were stopping the progression of the rash. We did 1/2 a teaspoon in the morning and 1/2 a teaspoon at night. The pediatrician told me to give him a full teaspoon because he is almost 30 lbs., but the 1/2 teaspoon did just fine. The less we use over-the-counters, the better!!
Thankfully by Tuesday morning, this is what he looked like:
In short, this is what worked:
- First and most importantly, review the diet and immediately stop consuming processed foods, dairy, eggs, nuts and any other potential allergens. If you have no idea what the person affected may be allergic or sensitive to, getting some allergy testing done is a good idea. An elimination diet is also really beneficial for determining food sensitivities.
- Apply a natural anti-itch cream like Florasone as needed to stop discomfort and scratching.
- A colloidal oatmeal bath such as this one by Aveeno can also help relieve itching.
- Apply Lavender Essential Oil plus coconut oil three times a day. Do a test spot first. Continue until the rash is completely gone.
- Oral antihistamine such as Benadryl if the hives really bad and still spreading. I only needed two doses, once I saw the rash beginning to fade I stopped this right away. (I realize this is not a natural treatment, but in some cases it may be necessary to stop the spread of the hives.)
Next time I see a rash coming on I am going to immediately look at his diet and eliminate any possible irritants. If I would have done this right away this time, there would have been no need to use Benadryl. Live and learn, right?
Do you have any natural treatment for hives? Please share in the comments below!
**I am not a doctor and am not giving medical advice. Human bodies are not “one size fits all” and the causes and effective treatments vary from person to person. Always check with your doctor for any medical problem.