Scratching my legs and getting hives in Thailand
‘Uh huh’, I remembered from once before, ‘Hives’.
Was it the heat, was it something I ate in this country of delicious spicy food? Whatever it was, the itching was driving me crazy.
The rash came on while I was at a two day silent retreat in a Buddhist monastery. It spread to my inner arms and chest. All the areas I use sunblock on, all the areas of my skin exposed to the sun and air.
AS soon as we returned to Chiang Mai city I asked the pharmacist at the nearby University Pharmacy. She looked at my ugly red legs with kindness.
“We get a lot of that here, with farang (foreigners) . It’s the pollution, gives you an allergy.’
From my internet research , I had learned that hives, or urticaria, can be caused by food allergies, environmental allergy or excessive heat. All were likely in Thailand. All can respond to antihistamine and to a steroid ointment. So I was confident to take her advice- to rub on Beprogel, a topical solution to reduce the swelling and itchiness, and to swallow Zyrtec, an antihistamine tablet.
Along the road, a herbal pharmacist offered me a lovely cooling green aloe vera lotion to relieve the itch, and also a detox teabag- take three times a day. I checked it out on the internet- thunbergia laurelfolia- can be used as anti inflammatory. She advised cutting out all seafood and fish sauce. This was hard as I had to learn to say, ‘No fish, no oyster sauce’ in Thai.
After four days of trying not to scratch, the swelling was reduced, the itching lessened and things were looking up. But one night, I unthinkingly had the most delicious fish and salad, and within minutes was scratching the new red welts.