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Okay, I am not a major fan of sites like WebMD; often when I go there to learn more about a symptom I have, I leave my computer feeling as though I have six months to live and will need an appendage removed. However, the Internet is wonderful due to sites like this where you can collect information, interact with others with similar issues and find a cure/solution.

Last winter many of you may remember that I was getting something like hives all over my body. Doctors couldn't figure out what it was, but I was able to deduce it was eating blue cheese after some time with Google. Removed the food from my diet and less than 48 hours later I was back to normal.

Well I have been plagued with a far harsher form of hives ever since October. I can go for weeks without an outbreak, and then I can have a day like today where I fear leaving my house because I look like The Elephant Man. It seems to be cyclical – I get them worst the week before and the week after my period, and usually the really hard-core outbreaks are the days after my period. However they can spark up at any time, and usually happen a day after I have been stressed out (yesterday we got our taxes done).

I have tried cutting various foods out of my diet with no change. Looking at my body care products, nothing seems that drastically different. Went to doctors, they say it is stress related and to try to keep calm (HAHAHAHA, you try being calm when you are covered in big red itchy welts!). Reading online, people get hives from so many different causes, it was hard to figure out what the trigger may be.

So I walked through yesterday, trying to figure out how I left the house at 7am hive-free, started seeing welts around 11am, and by 8pm I had a hard time walking or even blinking due to inflamed skin. And then this morning… well I like being honest with you guys but I just can't bear the thought of photographing my mug in this condition.

So I started the day with my shower – pureology's shampoo and conditioner which I have used for months (and removed from my routine without any change in skin). Olay body wash, again used on and off for several months and no change when removed from my routine. Ran out of shaving cream so shaved with Olay. Same Secret Clinical Strength deodorant, same Neutrogena Body Oil. Washed face with a Body Shop product I have used for two years, Body Shop moisturizer I have used for seven, Olay eye cream and a bit of Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment because I had some post-period bumps on my chin and around my mouth. Hair styling products I am also very familiar with and you guys KNOW I wear almost the same makeup every day.

Dress was dry-cleaned; maybe I have a reaction to the chemicals? No I wore a dry-cleaned item the other day without issue.

Took the Metro, but I get hives when I drive.

Got to work… but I get hives on weekends and got them at my old job. Drank water and coffee…

Then went to lunch with office mates. Drank water with lemon, didn't consume anything strange or spicy…

By 2pm I was a mess. This morning I wake up and want to cry at my reflection, but instead I examine it more closely. Tweeze a stray hair at my brow, notice my little beginning zits are gone thanks to that amazing silver tube from Clean & Clear…

cleanclearIT'S THE CLEAN & CLEAR!

Google “Salicylic Acid Hives” and “Clean & Clear Hives” and get TONS of articles from people telling their stories about how this ingredient causes horrible hives, and how some vegetables have this same ingredient. These are vegetables I often end up eating at times where the occasional hive ends up being a horrific event. I get PMS, I get breakouts, I use my trusty silver tube of gel. I am a vegetarian so I eat a lot of nuts (pistachios and almonds have Salicylates) and recently have been on a broccoli kick (also contains Salicylates). I stress over the hives and get breakouts so I apply more Clean & Clear. Then on a Wednesday like today I am The Elephant Man.

Well the tube went in the trash.

I also think that last January when I broke out in hives, I was also using this product. I stopped using it because I lost it on vacation. Maybe it wasn't blue cheese, maybe it was Salicylic Acid the whole time!

Anyway, the point of this post is – be informed. Don't let doctors tell you it's stress or in your head or just mindlessly prescribe you something like Prednisone. As you are informed with what came down the runway at Fashion Week, or the new Heatherette line of MAC Cosmetics, be informed about your body and what you are using to feed or treat it. Yes, sites like WebMD told me I may have some incurable disease due to my hives symptoms, but I also found out about this one ingredient that may have been giving me months of misery.

Any suggestions on a replacement product that battles minor breakouts?

Be an informed and educated beauty!!

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  1. I must agree with others who said this, tea tree oil is the best acne treatment. A drop or two on a Q-tip and then swiped on spots or added to your moisturizer. I have the same (if not better because it seems to heal my skin as well) results than when I used C&C Advantage (no allergies, just ran out). Bonus: works wonders on razor bumps, ingrown hairs and itchy scalp/dandruff.

  2. You know, I haven’t had aspirin in years. That’s good to know. I don’t use medications very often and outside of allergy meds once and a while when visiting the home of a friend with a cat (or now that I have gotten these hives), I could go a year without any pain relievers or cold meds. If this truly is the culprit I will be cautious of aspirin in the future. Thanks all!

  3. I’m on Daniel Kern’s Regimen for acne [2.5% benzoyl peroxide] but that would probably be too extreme for just a spot here and there. I’ve been hearing stuff about this thing called Zeno that kills the bacteria with heat. It’s pretty expensive and not right for me [since I had more than a few spots] but I find it interesting because it doesn’t involve putting chemicals on your skin. I want to try out the BeautySkin or Verilux ClearWave because it’s just using light to keep acne away. I’m trying to get away from harsh chemicals.

  4. Two things. My dad was suffering from life threatening Salicylate induced asthma. He elminated Salicylates and started taking Mod U Care and is completely off all asthma medication. It is great stuff, you can find it online and at healthfood stores.

    Next, Paula the “cosmetic cop” offers Salicylate free products in her skin care and makeup line.

    Hope this is a permanent solution for you!

  5. Just wanted to add that if the hives do continue to bother you I would get a referral to a *good* allergist – one who knows his/her stuff and will take you and your symptoms seriously. I would also look into a dairy elimination diet if you haven’t already. It can take several weeks before the diet takes effect. Do you already keep a food journal? That would be a good idea too. All easier said than done, but I wish you luck and smooth itch-free skin!

  6. if you are having problems with salicylic, beware of aspirin and tomatoes too. A great spot treatment is a little baking soda and water made into a paste, applied and left to dry.

  7. Off to google this for myself now…I have been having breakouts and keep applying the Clean and clear treatment and they aren’t going away. I’ve stopped putting on foundation in attempts to let my skin “have a rest” so you’re saying it could be the clean and clear’s fault??? Oh my.

  8. Allie,
    Thanks..Maybe I will look for something with soy and natural based and work from there. I am also going to scope out the Body Shop for the tea tree.

    WOW…You are very quick with your responses !


  9. Oooh and as for the tea tree, totally agree – great stuff. However this Clean & Clear was phenomenal – like have a zit, put the stuff on, go to bed and no redness, no scar, no anything left! Sad that it causes such hivey misery 🙁 But I have pure tea tree and the Body Shop stick in my medicine cabinet. Also awesome for mosquito bites and cuts!

  10. You guys are so awesome with the suggestions! I only get little babies around the mouth and occasionally between the brows so a spot treatment like the Clinique one may be perfect. This tube isn’t even 1/4 empty and I have had it since September.

    As for scrubs, I really do switch around. I have a Dove exfoliating wash in the shower, a Body Shop now-discontinued scrub in the medicine cabinet that is a soy and calendula base with jojoba beads. Haven’t found a replacement for the body Shop one and am on the last tube. It’s a light gel base, doesn’t lather, doesn’t scratch and for sensitive skin. I’ll need a replacement probably by mid-May too!

    Do check the ingredients, from what I read on WebMD and other sites it seems to be the salycitic acid. But it’s weird, would use it on my chin and get hives on my legs and feet! Yesterday by time I got off the Metro I could barely walk in my right shoe, my foot had swollen up so drastically.

  11. Good Job, Madam Detective..

    I am sitting at computer scratching as I type. I use both the Clean and Clear scrub and acne treatment. My Hives are only on my right side of my face and jawline.

    I Have been scrubing my face and applying the treatment more and more thinking it was just that time of the month.

    I am heading to the mall tonight to get a new scrub, can I ask which scrub you use since we might have the same problem?


  12. My goodness, aren’t you a clever detective. Good for you, Allie, and ITA about mindless rx’s for Prednisone.

    Oh, and Retin-A Micro is a miracle in a tube.


  13. ditto katie’s comment about clinique. the spot treatment gel tube is 13.50, but you get a lot of it. I had a sample tube that lasted a few months before I had to purchase a replacement.

  14. Ditto Grace’s comment. Tea Tree Oil is the best acne treatment I know (the drugstore gels/creams/etc never helped me). I mix in small amounts of TTO into my face wash, and if I do get a bump, dab on some full strength oil onto the spot and it’s usually gone in 1-2 days (might sting a bit on your sensitive skin).

  15. That’s awesome that you figured it out, detective! What a relief!

    I use Dermalogica products with pretty good success, although I am rocking a hardcore zit right now, so I don’t know if I’m one to talk…

  16. How about that acne skin care line that is sold online – supposedly Jessica Simpson swears by it. Don’t know if its for sensitive skin. Other than that, I would go to a dermotologist and use the doctor’s products. I tried that and it worked for me. There’s a brand called DCL and I use their moisturizer for my eczema-prone skin.

  17. Wow, that must have been a relief. I also get hives from salicylates–I can handle a certain level in foods, but if I have too many ‘bad’ things the same day it’s unpleasant, and if the acid gets on my skin from a product or from food it’s…well, as you said, Elephant Woman. I only get minor pimples and tea tree oil or regular Noxzema as an overnight spot treatment does the trick. I can also use retinaldehyde and other retinols with no problems.

  18. Depending on how severe your breakouts are, you could try tea tree oil spot treatment. It’s nice not to have to use anything harsher than that.

  19. So happy for you, sweetheart!

    I am a fan of Clinique’s acne treatment products. They used to have a really good gel that they stopped making (what were they thinking?!?!) but they still have Acne Solutions Spot Healing Gel which is excellent. It’s $13.50 – not cheap but not terrible – so it might be worth a try.

  20. Queen Helene mint julep mask also doubles as a great spot treatment.
    It can be found at your local drugstore and it’s affordable.

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