Wednesday, May 31, 2006


They can appear unexpectedly on any part of the body as ugly, hideous and itchy reddish wheals that can make you look like a sci-fi B-movie ghoulish character—with a bad make-up job.

The size of which varies anywhere from that of a mosquito bite to a swollen mark on the skin about a couple of inches in diameter surrounded by redness. They would sometimes initially manifest as clusters on the neck and upper chest areas, but soon spread to the face, back, and throughout the rest of the body. As if these were not horrific enough, you also begin to experience teary eyes, increased saliva production and diarrhea—simultaneously. And you thought an overstaying, meddling mother-in-law was the worst intrusion in your otherwise pristine life.

Much to my dismay, for the first time in my life, I experienced an attack of these itchy monstrosities about three weeks ago. My right cheek and neck first appeared as if carpet-bombed with mosquito bites. By the following morning, my cheek was swollen and as red as a Macintosh apple. It was horrible!

This outbreak is commonly known as hives or exercise-induced anaphylaxis (EIA). It can be a sort of allergic reaction, which manifests itself through a spectrum of symptoms affecting the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, or other vital systems. Anyone can be affected — from young children to elderly folks — but physically active teenagers and adults are more often susceptible. According to, physical activities that can trigger episodes of EIA include walking, dancing, racquet sports, swimming, jogging, bicycling, skiing, basketball, and sprinting. Moreover, hot humid weather and cold weather can precipitate episodes in some patients.

What did it for me, I suspected, was the lunch I had before I went out to play badminton that afternoon — grilled milk fish and salad (chopped onions, tomatoes, green mango and bagoong). I said I suspected, because even the medical community is uncertain whenever pinpointing the definitive cause or allergen that induces an EIA outbreak. A sure-fire cure can be just as elusive. Usually, doctors will prescribe heroic doses of anti-histamines, steroid-based medications, drastic change of diet and what not. But these are more often trial and error affairs.

Determined to avoid steroid-based drugs (the prominent side effect of which is weight gain), I decided to go for home remedy cure and contacted my sister’s friend from Baguio — a so-called medicine woman. Much to my surprise, her method for this particular malady involved no esoteric cocktails of herbs and tree barks. She simply recommended a cold compress for the swelling and to replace my usual drinking water (for about a couple of weeks) with lightly salted lukewarm water. In addition, she had me take at least four cold showers each day — using Dr. Kaufman sulfur zinc oxide soap, which is available at all Mercury Drugstores.

Within a couple of days, the sores subsided and with the application of the locally-made sebo de macho, over the affected area, there were no leftover scars or reddish marks. I do, however, still experience some minor outbreaks on my back and upper arms, but they are all manageable now with this home remedy regimen. The current hot weather in Manila obviously exacerbates this unpleasant situation.

Nevertheless, throughout this hellish ordeal, I pursued my badminton and yoga exercises with as much enthusiasm as before. The last thing I wanted to do was to succumb to this outbreak and allow it to disrupt my regular activities.

Photo credit: aclaic
Note: Unable to attach photo at this time. Must be a Blogger malfunction.


posted by Señor Enrique at 1:10 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is informative. but it is scary thought, too, to have those. unusual cure for the allergy, ha..

May 31, 2006 10:55 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ay talaga, Bing -- I wouldn't wish this on anyone, especially on those whose jobs have to do with dealing with the public.

As I get older I tend to shy away from drugs, including antibiotics, and somehow favor home remedies.

June 01, 2006 9:38 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good to hear that you are okay now.

Ingat lang lagi. Mahirap magkasakit.

June 01, 2006 3:00 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, myepinoy!

June 02, 2006 7:09 AM  

Blogger Deany Bocobo said...

I've only experience hives once, about 15 years ago. I had just returned from a trip to the Philippines back to the US and had been back a few weeks. Then I ate a Chinese restaurant and played with my dog, whom I thought had fleas but didn't. I wasn't exercising then. That nite: HIVES. I suspected the Chinese food but inspected Stogie the Doggie again for fleas. nada. Never happened again, though stogie died...and I still love eating Chinese food (but not at that resto)..

June 03, 2006 7:53 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yours must have been strictly some sort of food poisoning, Rizalist -- much like what happens to my nephew whenever he ate something (unknowingly) with shrimp in it. Mine, is what is locally known as "bungang-araw," but as big as mosquito bites.

Incidentally, I have some Cortizone ointment from the States, which I've always resorted to against any itching. But on this case, the regular Johnson's Baby Cologne (since it contains alcohol) is more effective in subduing new outbreaks. Weird remedy, huh? :)

June 03, 2006 10:16 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds scary indeed. Good thing the home remedy worked. We also always have cortisone cream. It works on everything, even mosquito bites.

June 03, 2006 10:22 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Cortisone is truly effective!

If there's an upside to this whole madness, Niceheart, it is the realization that I'm no longer consumed with vanity as I was when younger.

Years ago I would have hidden and sulked inside the house throughout the entire ordeal -- mortified to be seen with such skin affliction. Instead, what I did was applied whatever remedy I could and went about my business. I assumed people would know I was suffering from an allergy. If not and were revolted by it, oh well, that'd be their problem. :)

Nonetheless, it was very troubling to experience such outbreak.

June 04, 2006 6:29 AM  

Blogger JANICE JAIME said...

Thank God I found this post.

I recently started becoming more active and the hives outbreakes have been terrible.I've had consistent swelling and redness for about 2 weeks It started when I started jogging and then doing yoga. Being the frontwoman of a prominent band, I really became more and more anxious everyday. I'm an avid fan of cebo de macho (for minor acne scars) but I will definetly try your home remedies. Do you have any suggestions on where I could buy the zinc soap online?

Thank you, Janice

July 09, 2009 11:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


About Me

Name: Señor Enrique
Location: Manila, Philippines

View my complete profile

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Flickr Badge. Make your own badge here.
Señor Enrique Home
Designed by The Dubai Chronicles.
All rights and lefts reserved.