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Is there any connection between morphea and chronic urticaria (hives)?


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#1 just4cake

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 05:35 AM

Hi there, I'm new to the forum- and this is because I’ve recently become FED UP, so I decided to join and get some personal insight to this disease.

Recently I've had an outrageous outbreak of hives. My doctor doesn’t seem to think it is related to the Morphea, and has put me on allergy medications and has referred me to an allergist; however I don’t believe this is related to allergies.

I’ve had Morphea as long as I can remember, and I'm 27. I was officially diagnosed when I was 8 from a biopsy taken from one of the lesions on my inner thigh.

This was around the time I started getting severe hives covering large stretches of my body. My mother took me to the ER more times than I can count and the doctors never had an answer.

Over time the hives would disappear and then about 8 years ago the hives reappeared. Then one day, I don’t remember getting them. I took an antihistimine every night and they would disappear and the cycle would continue.

About 6 months ago the hives came back. A combination of antihistimines and now a prescription have not been able to tame the hives. And, I don’t remember them ever being this bad.

I visited the doctor who performed a multitude of blood tests, including allergy tests, and I was perfectly healthy; no allergies. So now I’m being referred to an allergist, when I’m thinking I need to find a Rheumatologist. I feel like I should just drop the issue because we already know there is no cure, just “symptom management”—and that doesn’t seem to be working either.

I haven’t seen a doctor for my condition since I was child. I just learned to deal with it. My “scars” cover most of the front of both of my legs in patches, my inner arms, and some small areas around my back and thighs. The largest “scar” covers my left ankle and is the most noticeable (dark, “scaly”, veiny).

Does anyone else have hives? And has your doctor attributed it to the Morphea?

#2 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 06:38 AM

Hello Just4cakes

Lovin' the name and welcome to the forums! I have systemic sclerosis, morphea and bullous morphea, they're a great crowd.

We have a lot of information on site about morphea you may find helpful. We also have a link to the Mayo Clinic about chronic hives (urticaria). Mayo has this to say about causes:

"But in most cases, the cause of chronic hives is never identified even after testing and monitoring symptoms. Heat, cold, pressure, sunlight or other environmental stimuli may worsen chronic hives. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), also can worsen chronic hives."

You might want see a dermatologist or an allergist to see if they can offer more help.

Take care and keep posting.
Amanda Thorpe
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#3 Lil Dee

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 11:45 PM

Hi Just4cake (and yes, I now want cake!!)

I have been diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma, but only in the last 12 months. I have recently become very partial to my own brand of hives, which I have spoken to my general practitioner about (who is no Sclero specialist, but a very understanding doctor, that tries to keep up with my symptoms !) I was 'lucky' that day, as I had a break out whilst sat talking to him about them, so he was able to see for himself what it was. He has agreed that is almost certainly the Sclero that is behind my outbreaks.

He has advised me to take some anti-histamine for a couple of weeks to see if they help, but to be honest, I'm lucky, they're obviously no where near the intensity of the hives you're experiencing, and I hate taking more medication for something I can still cope with.

Hope to see you around, LD
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#4 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 11:58 PM

Hi Just4cake,

Welcome to Sclero Forums!

I'm sorry you have morphea, as well as chronic hives (urticaria). Since hives are very common, there will certainly be people (perhaps many people) who have morphea who also have hives. However, as it happens, there is no known direct association between the two ailments, and I consulted a member of our ISN Medical Advisory Board on this, just to be sure. In other words, chronic urticaria is not a symptom of morphea, so it should not be ascribed to morphea, and thus other causes should be thoroughly investigated (such as allergies or other underlying illness.)

Commonly, morphea burns itself out after about 3 to 5 years, even without any treatment at all. Of course, as you've found, most people are still left with the residual damage to deal with the rest of their lives. Today, there are treatments to help prevent the spread of morphea, which is much better than when you were a child. Once in a blue moon, morphea might reactivate later on, with new patches developing. If you ever do experience new growth of the morphea lesions (and hopefully this is not some sort of harbinger, this time around), then you would want to consult a scleroderma expert to see what if any morphea treatments would be appropriate for you.

Meanwhile, sorry to say, this cannot simply be laid at the feet of morphea. More investigation needs to be done, and treatments for morphea probably would not be suitable or effective for chronic urticaria, which as the name says, is chronic. Chronic urticaria will go away from time to time, but still be there to rear its ugly, itchy head just when you least expect it! Searching for the cause of it can be helpful, if it can be identified, as then you can perhaps avoid future attacks. My mother (who had multiple autoimmune problems) had chronic urticaria, caused by exposure to cold, especially cold water. It turned out she also had a lot of other allergies and food sensitivities which were apparently overloading her system, and when she worked on those, her urticaria gradually let up, and a few of her sensitivities subsided later on, as well.

Now, just because there isn't a direct connection, that we are currently aware of, between morphea and urticaria, does NOT mean that you need to exit Sclero Forums! Even if you are fortunate enough to have had your morphea stop in its tracks in its plan for total body domination, you still have morphea, and I am sure that its mere presence alone is an everyday reminder. You can also be a great role model for others who live with morphea, as to how to plunge ahead with life, despite it all.
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
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The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#5 Jeannie McClelland

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 11:59 AM

Hi just4cake,

As you can see, there is a pretty wide variety of opinion even among the medical folks about what might or might not be due to scleroderma. I think what I would like to add to this discussion is that in the scleroderma spectrum of diseases, there are many types:

—Juvenile Scleroderma
—Localized: Linear/En Coup
—Localized: Morphea
—Systemic: CREST
—Systemic: Limited
—Systemic: Diffuse
Systemic Scleroderma sine Scleroderma
—Overlap/MCTD/UCTD


Each type seems to have a discreet set of possible symptoms/complications and hallmarks that aid in the identification. I can't answer to your question from personal experience because I don't have morphea and when I do get hives, I already know of a number of triggers for me. I did a comprehensive search of the literature and I haven't been able to find a single study linking the two.

I think I would echo Amanda's suggestion of seeing either a dermatologist or an allergist about the hives (what's to lose?). Hives are miserable to live with. The Mayo Clinic link Amanda gave you has quite a long list of treatment options and I think an allergist would be best placed to treat the hives successfully.

I'd offer you a warm hug, but I bet you would really rather not be hugged. I sure wouldn't. Please don't rule out seeking other medical advice and I hope you get some lasting relieve soon.

Best wishes,
Jeannie McClelland
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#6 Snowbird

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 12:27 PM

Just4cake,

I'm in with the others and hope you keep investigating and get to the root of it. There's never any harm in being careful and it's not good to let things go, especially only to find that perhaps they could have been treated earlier. That good old hindsight can be a wonderful thing (but if only it came earlier!!). Take care.
Sending good wishes your way!

#7 summer01

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 11:05 AM

I have had Morphea that is still active for over 12 years now. A few months ago I got a really odd rash under both of my arm pits, stretching about 4 inches down, that looked like raised claw marks, with hundreds of little blisters on the raised rash lines. I went to my Dr. and she said it was part of having Morphea and said it was likely part of it's autoimmunity. This was just my regular Dr. She sent me upstairs to my dermatologist (neither had ever seen a rash like it) and the dermatologist said she noticed that my body was producing histamines - so she took her wood stick and lightly drew a big X across my arm. 3 minutes later it was raised and red, and she said anywhere I had pressure (like my bra strap) or scratched my body was producing histamines. We never figured out where the rash came from or what caused it. Well, the other night I developed hives and my throat was closing in, and I had to go to the ER where I received and Epi shot and stayed over night for observation. They couldn't figure out what caused the hives, but ironically, they were where my jacket collar and my shirt and bra straps had "cut in" through out the day. Those were the only places that developed them. I'm in the process of trying to figure out which Dr. to see and what to really tell them?? They sent me home with an Epi kit if it happens again, as it was restricting my air ways and the oral medications did not work. I already take anti-histamine medication daily.

#8 Joelf

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 01:30 PM

Hi Summer01,

Welcome to these forums!

I'm sorry to hear that you're experiencing so many unpleasant symptoms.

.....I'm sorry you have morphea, as well as chronic hives (urticaria). Since hives are very common, there will certainly be people (perhaps many people) who have morphea who also have hives. However, as it happens, there is no known direct association between the two ailments, and I consulted a member of our ISN Medical Advisory Board on this, just to be sure. In other words, chronic urticaria is not a symptom of morphea, so it should not be ascribed to morphea, and thus other causes should be thoroughly investigated (such as allergies or other underlying illness.)


As Amanda said earlier in the thread to Just4cake's enquiry, you might want see a dermatologist or an allergist to see if they can offer more help and advice to you.

Kind regards,

Jo Frowde
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#9 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 02:14 PM

Hello Summer01

Welcome to the forums!

Although I have morphea I don't have hives etc and you do need to see a specialist. You sound allergic to yourself! My husband is allergic to his own sweat so anything is possible, apart form giving you an answer eh? :lol: :lol:

Take care.
Amanda Thorpe
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#10 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:07 PM

Hi Summer01,

Welcome to Sclero Forums! Please keep in mind that I have no medical training at all, and not even a current first aid certificate. It is possible that what you are describing might be called dermographism urticaria. Although most cases are of unknown cause, there are many possible causes of it. Please see: Dermographism Urticaria in Medscape.

Approximately 2 to 5% of people experience this from time to time. The article explains the diagnostic work-up plus a range of treatments, as well. I hope this helps to put you on the road to properly dealing with this health issue. Let us know what more you find out about it, okay?

:emoticons-group-hug:
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.