Last week, I had a date with LT: take-out dinner at my house. We dined, we talked, we kissed and then I was itchy. I went into my bathroom to look in the mirror and was surprised to see hives: big welts, small pinpoints and swaths of red angry itchiness around my mouth, on both cheeks, both sides of my neck, my clavicle and right shoulder. Everywhere LT had kissed me.
I was stunned. And very itchy. And a little wheezy.
It’s been three years since something like this has happened: hives from kissing a guy. Three years ago the saliva trail of hives went away on their own within an hour and there was no wheezing. This felt very different; I was a little scared.
What to do first and why was this happening was running through my mind while LT was putting cold compresses on the hives. It was the first thing I thought to do. Here are some contact urticaria treatment guidelines on WebMD. Seems they agree. We also took away the irritant, so that meant all kissing ceased. Earlier that evening, I had talked with LT about what to do in case of an emergency and one thing I said was to remind me to take Benedryl, which he did and I did.
While waiting for that to kick in, we reconstructed what happened. We ran through what he had put on his face that day: only Dove soap and Neutrogena products. No problems there. We ate dinner together with food from a restaurant that I know and trust. His dish had no nuts or fish; the server specifically told me his dish was safe for me (Thanks Jed Peele). And then we ran through what he ate earlier that day.
Only a few, he said, and hours earlier. He didn’t know he was seeing me that night. So that seemed an unlikely culprit but the reaction was so extreme. Hmm.
Thirty minutes after the Benedryl, a cool shower and some topical cortisone to stop the major itch factor, the bumps started to smooth out. Within an hour, the redness lessened and the wheezing subsided. LT felt awful since I was clearly reacting to his beard but he hung in there and was an excellent nurse.
The next day, I woke up still allergic (stuffed nose, some slight itching and some wheezing) so, I thought it best to check in with my GP. At my doctor’s office, I went over my personal allergy and asthma action plan and the possible cause for this hivey reaction. Cashews he said, in the beard most likely. I also spoke with an allergist colleague and described the scenario. He also said he thought the culprit wasn’t LT’s beard generally but cashew residue in his beard. Given my extreme response, cashew residue in the beard seems the most plausible cause.
From this incident, I realized my allergy and asthma action plans were internal, as in my head, and not written down. I had that moment of deer-in-the-headlights and if I had a written down plan I might have moved quicker.
So that changed this weekend; I wrote down what to do when on a chart. Here are some http://www.aaaai.org/patients/resources/ suggested emergency plans from AAAAI.org.
Don’t wait for an incident to sneak up on you to have a clear detailed emergency action plan that anyone can access. Make sure your meds are always near by and up to date. When appropriate, make sure those around you know how to assist you, if necessary.