20 October, 2011
Zinc & Hives
Hives is a fairly common, short-term skin condition caused mainly by allergic reactions or autoimmune problems. Hives can appear virtually anywhere on your body as raised red or pale-colored welts that are inflamed and itchy. Zinc deficiency affects the skin, but it usually causes psoriasis and scaly skin as opposed to hives. However, zinc oxide creams are used to provide relief to itchy and inflamed skin regardless of the cause. Zinc overdose may increase your susceptibility of autoimmune reactions by affecting the metabolism of other minerals. Talk to your doctor if you experience hives frequently.
Hives, or urticaria, is often caused by allergic reactions, especially to medications such as antibiotics, penicillin, codeine and aspirin, food preservatives, orange food dye, insect bites, animal dander, pesticides, detergents, and foods such as shellfish, peanuts, chocolate and strawberries. Hives can also be caused by an autoimmune disorder, which is when your immune system mysteriously attacks itself or unknown pathogens and irritants in your body. Hives are not life threatening, although sometimes are a symptom of something serious, and usually disappear in a couple of days. Hives are treated with antihistamines and corticosteroids, but more natural remedies are effective also.
Zinc Oxide for Hives
Understanding what caused your hives is of paramount importance in order to prevent it from occurring again, but you can treat the itchy symptoms with zinc oxide cream in the mean time. Zinc oxide is effective at relieving itchiness and skin irritation but doesn’t display anti-inflammatory properties. Calamine lotion works well also, which contains zinc and displays anti-histamine properties, as does witch hazel and alkaline compounds such as milk of magnesia.
A lack of zinc reduces your body’s ability to metabolize fats and vitamin A, which are needed for supple skin. Dry, itchy skin is a common symptom of zinc deficiency, but it is not known to cause hives directly. However, zinc deficiency compromises your immune response, which leads to greater susceptibility to infections. Some infectious agents may cause so-called autoimmune cases of hives. More research is needed to better identify and understand the triggers of autoimmune responses.
The recommended dietary allowance for zinc ranges from 8 to 13 mg daily depending on age, pregnancy and lactation, according to the “PDR for Nutritional Supplements.” Zinc toxicity is rare but can occur if you take a great deal more than recommended amounts for extended periods of time. Zinc toxicity interferes with the metabolism and utilization of other minerals, such as manganese and copper, and may increase susceptibility to autoimmune reactions. Ask your doctor if any of your medications are known to commonly cause hives in sensitive individuals.
- Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine; A. Fauci, et al.
- Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties; Canadian Pharmacists Association
- PDR for Nutritional Supplements; Sheldon Hendler, David Rorvik
- offstocker/iStock/Getty Images