What is Angioedema?
Angioedema is a swelling of the skin very similar to hives. The main difference is that the former swelling affects deeper layers of the skin and often affects a person’s face or their lips.
Angioedema is typically harmless and leaves no lasting marks even with no treatment. Where treatment does take place, it is usually with some type of antihistamine medication. In extremely rare and severe cases, where the swelling affects the tongue or the throat, the airways can become blocked making the condition life threatening.
When you Should see a Doctor
Most cases of mild angioedema can easily be treated with an at home remedy and will not require medical treatment. However, you should see your doctor if the symptoms last for several days or more. You should also seek emergency assistance if you have problems breathing or feel that your throat is swelling.
Symptoms of Angioedema
Angioedema is a similar skin reaction to hives but affects the skin at a deeper level and occurs most commonly around the face including the lips, eyes and cheeks. Angioedema can occur simultaneously with an outbreak of hives or separately.
The most common symptoms of angioedema include:
- Thick, large welts
- Redness and swelling in the affected area
- Pain and heat in the skin
Causes of Angioedema
Angioedema has a similar list of potential causes to hives and is usually the result of an allergy. The following causes are among the most common…
- Food: Certain types of food can trigger an angioedema outbreak in people with a sensitivity. Any food can cause a reaction but frequent offenders include shellfish, peanuts, milk, eggs and seafood.
- Common Allergens: Angioedema can be caused by common allergens like pollen, pet dander, insect stings and bites or latex products.
- Certain Medications: Pretty much any prescription medication can cause angioedema for people who are sensitive. Among the most common offenders are ibuprofen, aspirin, penicillin, naproxen and various blood pressure drugs.
- Environmental Factors: Many different environmental factors can lead to angioedema. These include weather extremes like heat or cold, or exposure to direct sunlight. Emotional stress, anxiety and even exercise can also put pressure on your skin.
- Medical Conditions: Angioedema may also occur as a result of an underlying medical issue. Autoimmune disorders like lupus, certain forms of cancer and various bacterial or viral infections can all trigger the complaint.
- Family History: In rare cases, genetics can be the cause of angioedema for those with rare inherited condition known as hereditary angioedema.
Conventional Treatment Options
People with mild symptoms may need no treatment beyond the home remedies we will be discussing soon. However, treatment, whether medical or at home can help ease the itching and discomfort.
If your symptoms are difficult to deal with, your doctor may prescribe one of the following remedies:
- Antihistamines to relieve the swelling, itching and other symptoms caused by allergies.
- Anti-inflammatory oral medications may be prescribed in more severe cases. Corticosteroids like prednisone are effective but come with as raft of potential side effects.
- Immune system suppressant medications to calm the immune system reaction.
Emergency treatment: In the case of a serious emergency, you may need to visit the ER immediately. A serious attack of angioedema that is affecting your breathing can be treated with an epinephrine injection.
To lower your likelihood of experiencing hives or angioedema, take the following precautions:
- Avoid any known triggers: Triggers could include medication, food and environmental factors like heat. If you have experienced a reaction on the past, try to avoid them.
- Maintain a diary: This can be especially helpful in pinpointing a food that is causing the condition.
Home Remedies for Angioedema
1) Cold Compress
In many cases of angioedema and also of hives, a soothing, cool compress may be all you need to relieve your symptoms.
Simply dip some bandages, dressings or towels in a bucket of cold water, ring out the excess and apply the damp material to the affected part of your body. Repeat the treatment as often as necessary for some fast and effective relief.
2) Milk Bath
A cool bath can be a very simple and effective remedy for the symptoms of angioedema. You may find that you get even better results if you add milk to the equation.
Milk works for angioedema because it contains anti-inflammatory enzymes that can reduce swelling as well as natural pain relieving qualities. Add a few cups of ordinary dairy milk or goat’s milk to your tub and let the goodness wash over your body. If the angioedema is affecting your face, make sure that you use the liquid to wash the affected areas .
3) Oatmeal Paste
Oatmeal or avena sativa is not just good for eating. It can also be used topically to relieve various skin conditions including the inflammation and irritation caused by angioedema.
Boil up some oatmeal and then allow it to cool sufficiently. Mash it up into a nice smooth paste and apply it to the affected parts of your skin. This soothing oatmeal paste produces a nice cooling sensation and can help relieve heat from the skin as well as reduce inflammation.
As well as using your oatmeal to make a paste, you can add some uncooked oatmeal or colloidal oatmeal to the bathtub and simply take a soothing soak.
Either remedy is extremely effective in relieving irritation and inflammation in your skin.
4) Bromelain and Pineapple
Pineapple and pineapple juice contains bromelain – a natural anti-inflammatory enzyme with various uses for your health. You would need to consume a great deal of pineapple in order for it to have the same effects as bromelain supplements so a supplement may be your best option.
Better yet, why not do both since pineapple is both delicious and full of nutritional benefits.
5) Essential Oils
Essential oils are growing in popularity and are used to treat a very wide range of conditions. Many of these natural oils are the perfect remedy for inflammatory skin conditions like angioedema and hives because they contain excellent anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.
Before using any essential oil topically on your skin, it is important that you dilute them in a carrier oil like jojoba or virgin coconut oil.
As well as using them topically, you could add a few drops of your chosen oil to your bathtub for a full body treatment that will benefit your skin no end.
If you are new to essential oils, it is important to note that they are very powerful and that they should NEVER be taken internally and diluting them before topical application is extremely important.
6) Baking Soda
Baking soda is a cheap convenient but nevertheless effective treatment for conditions like angioedema and hives. It works on the condition because its natural anti-inflammatory properties help to soothe the skin considerably.
You can use your baking soda in the bath by simply adding half a cup or so to your tub and letting your skin soak it up. Alternatively, add two tablespoons to a bowl and mix it up with enough water to form a thick, smooth paste. Apply the paste to your affected skin and let it sit work for 20 minutes or so.
7) Aloe Vera
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of Aloe vera make it a great home remedy for a wide range of skin issues including angioedema. When applied to the skin, it helps to soothe itching and inflammation quickly.
It is best to use the gel extracted from a fresh aloe leaf rather than a ready made gel. It also makes a great remedy for children suffering with angioedema because it is a very safe treatment.
Chamomile has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that make it great for inflammatory issues like angioedema. We have already mentioned chamomile essential oil but you can also use the leaves of the herb to make a topical remedy.
Steep a few teaspoons of the dried or fresh herb in a pot of hot water for at least a couple of hours. Simply apply the liquid to the affected area of your skin once or twice each day.
Turmeric has been well studied for its health benefits. Many of its incredible uses are down to the presence of an anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin but turmeric also has antihistamine properties making it a great treatment for conditions like angioedema.
Taking curcumin supplements or adding plenty of turmeric to your diet is a great option. Another method of using the spice is to apply it topically. Mix some turmeric powder with water into a topical paste that you can apply directly to the affected parts of your skin.
If you have angioedema, we hope that one of these remedies will prove effective for you. Coupled with the preventive measures earlier, they should make a difference. please let us know if you tried any of them and whether they worked for you.
If we have left anything off the list, tell us about it and we can add it in.