Interview transcription:

Penelope Pratsou gives advice on how to prevent or avoid hives. 

What are some lifestyle modifications you can make to prevent hives (urticaria)?

Penelope Pratsou: You can’t completely avoid hives altogether, because it’s something that tends to affect a vast amount of people – about one in five people at some point in their lifetimes.

In most cases, it could be a reaction to the common cold or something like that, so as you get better, this will dissipate on its own. However, if you are someone that is a chronic sufferer of hives or urticaria, then we must look into whether there is something that could be triggering it.

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Penelope Pratsou: In certain situations, it could be caused by things like pressure – so avoiding tight clothing might be very helpful – or sweat.

A lot of people come in to my practice and mention food. They say, could I be allergic to something that I’m eating? What can I exclude from my diet to make these hives go away? Food allergies are not that common for adults, so it doesn’t tend to trigger hives. You would rarely get hives as an adult due to food.

However, there are specific diets that you could follow should you choose to, and they’re known as pseudo-allergen free diets or low pseudo-allergen diets. You can exclude food groups that tend to cause the release of histamine into the skin. Now those diets can be very restrictive, so it’s not one that I would start with really, but it is an option, and it might be an idea to keep a food diary, to see if something is flaring it up.

In addition to that, some people find that alcohol can cause that histamine release, so it might be something that they wish to avoid, and some medications can bring it on. If you can avoid things like aspirin, ibuprofen and those non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets, I would recommend that.

If you notice that you have any of the symptoms or conditions that we’ve just discussed, we invite you to book a consultation with Dr Penelope Pratsou. She’ll be able to assess your situation and give you a personalised treatment plan.

About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.

Learn more about me