Urticaria rash with joint stiffness

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I found this forum when researching urticaria and thought I'd like to hear your thoughts on this. About a month ago I had a bad flu and I was already starting to feel better when I got urticaria/hives all of a sudden. It started on my hip and in 2 days 90% of my body was covered and the itching and agony was absolutely unbearable. I went to a hospital three times and first they gave me steroids, then they told me they had found a trace of bacteria in my blood and decided to treat me with antibiotics. The next day another doctor said there is no need for antibiotics and they prescribed me antihistamine. I took 3 x 10mg Cetrine and 1 x 25mg Atarax daily for 2 weeks and now I've been reducing the dose week by week as the doctor advised to do so. When my urticaria started I experienced severe stiffness and swelling in my joints; feet, knees, wrists, fingers, hip... It came in waves and it was weird as one moment I was able to get up without any assistance and take off my clothes and the next I was unable to even pull up my pants without help. My doctor said the stiffness was due to high histamine levels in my body. 

At the moment I'm taking 1 x 10mg  Cetrine and  1 x 25mg Atarax and I've noticed that the stiffness is coming back, especially my groins, elbows and knees are aching and it makes moving difficult. Have you had similar experiences? Did you get rid of the stiffness? In the hospital they took x-rays and they looked fine, but I'm freaking out as I love sports and I can barely walk 3k at the moment without my groins starting to hurt and me feeling fatigued. This is the first time I ever had urticaria and I'm afraid of it becoming chronic. Antihistamines make me very tired and anxious and I can't concentrate on anything and I forget things all the time so this has had a big impact on my life. Doctors said that most likely it was the flu that triggered the urticaria but also stated that we will probably never find out for sure what it was.

Thank you for reading this and take care!


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  • Posted

    Hi maija,

    From my experience and a long time to be diagnosed with chronic urticaria and chronic delayed pressure urticaria it’s one of those things that is just triggered off without knowing the cause and also one of those things that can just stop out of the blue. I found a long course of methotrexate has worked along side the antihistamines and steroids in between. But it took 7 months to finally disappear. I’ve been give free now for two months and now not taking anything. I also got all the pain like yourself and saw many doctors and private dermatologists.  It’s awful how tired you get and I found work and doing my normal activities impossible. I would recommend seeing a dermatologist without a doubt and trying methotrexate, the next step after that I would recommend is xolair injections as I was about to have these done recently but as mine has suddenly stopped there was no need, but I have heard that many people have found these helpful. I really feel for you as it’s so stressful and not much support. I found my support on here. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Michelle, 

      Thank you so much for your reply and tips! I am definitely going to see a dermatologist again in few weeks if this doesn't get any better. Methotrexate sounds like a good option. Gives me hope to know that chronic urticaria comes without a reason since mine, most likely, is flu related. I have the same situation as you did, daily activities like work feel nearly impossible. Feels like I'm not living but just trying to survive, I really want to get my life back. Could sleep endlessly. 7 months is a long time to live such hell! I'm very sorry for what you've been through. Glad to hear you don't need medication at the moment, I hope it stays that way. It really is great to talk to people who have same experiences. Take care!

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  • Posted

    Hi Maija;  I too have pain in my hips, and "charlie horses" frequently in my lower legs and feet.  I do have chronic hives, and I take 2-3 times more antihistamines that you do on a daily basis.  Since you had the flu, and joint pain and overall aching is common, my hope for you is that this is all a one time event and will pass.  Sounds like your hives may have been a result of being so ill and maybe a reaction to the medicine that the doctors gave you.  I'm not an expert of course, but to answer your original question, yes, I have experienced more joint pain, particularly hips and legs since I have been breaking out with CIU.   Best wish that yours will be short lived!!!  God bless! 



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    • Posted

      Hi Meemaw, 

      Thank you for your reply and wished, I hope you're right about my hives! 2-3 times more antihistamines sounds awful, you're very brave to manage with all that. Your joint pain sounds very similar to mine, I hope to get rid of it as it is very disturbing but I just need patience now. The recovery is a long process. Wish you all the best and stay strong!! God bless!

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  • Posted


    I also suddenly came down with Urticaria after a flu. In hindsight, I'd made myself extremely over-busy caring for family members after suffering a trauma and extreme stress from a tragic bereavement. I think stress can be a major pre-trigger factor. And then, once Urticaria is in place, the stress can make the Urticaria worse. Sleep can get disrupted and it can all knot together into a mess of suffering. I think it is important to get the sleep back under control, as sleep does wonders for your immune system and general outlook.

    I think you need to see an immunologist, first and foremost. Get them to rule out Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is a related sister condition to Urticaria. 

    I found Gabapentin helpful with the stress, itch / pain, restless legs, tossing and turning at night, insomnia and anxiety. I also highly recommend starting mindfulness meditation (see Breathworks) to help with the highly uncomfortable feelings and perhaps see a therapist to help manage the suffering. This Urticaria can send you in a tail spain. But it's manageable, if treated properly.

    The immunologist might be able to help you with immuno-suppresants. For example, Dapsone, Sulfasalazine, Methotrexate, Mycophenolate, Ciclosporine etc... But for me, I found a combination of Gabapentin, meditation, therapy to help with the anxiety / pain. UVB light therapy worked well after a month or two and gave me a lot of relief.

    Atarax and so on can help in the short-term, but don't live your life heavily sedated because you don't have to be. There are better treatment options. 

    Some people have luck with Xolair. 

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