Hives are an annoying rash, that is usually caused by skin care products, a particular food, or animals that people have come in contact with. An unusual type of hives, caused by vibrations, is called “vibratory urticaria. ” Patients who have this condition break out into hives from activities like running, hand clapping, snoring, towel drying, or even bumpy bus rides.
Researchers released new information today that could help unlock why some people develop this rare allergy. Scientists have pinpointed a specific mutation in the ADGRE2 gene that runs in some families with this rare disorder, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, all of the families originate from a small area in Lebanon, suggesting common ancestors.
Hives occur when immune system cells called mast cells release the chemical histamine, usually as an allergic response. The release of histamine brings on the red, itchy and bumpy hives. Mast cells usually release histamine when allergic signals come from the immune system, but this research suggests that the hive-causing cells are sensitive to physical vibration as well.
People without vibratory urticaria still release some histamine in response to vibration, according to the lead investigator in the study, Dr. Hirsh Komarow of the NIH Laboratory of Allergic Disease. For those with the disease, the reaction to vibration is much stronger. The hives develop within a few minutes of the vibration and usually stop within an hour.
“It’s more of an annoyance,” Komarow said confirming what people with the condition have told him “Since people have it since birth and since other family members have it, it is accepted as the standard and there are certain things you don’t do. It’s not so bad because your brothers and uncles and niece don’t do it either.”
The study didn’t show that every person with the condition will have this same genetic mutation, but it shows how this disease can be passed on through generations. This research may help scientists learn more about how mast cells function in the skin can expand the knowledge of how allergic reactions work.
Dr. Hugh Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, explains that this research could help doctors work with the small group of patients suffering from this disease, where the exact genetic mutation remains unknown.
“You know there has to be a physiologic reason behind it but nobody has found it,” stated Sampson. Sampson said he cares for one patient who developed the disease, after he started playing the trumpet and the instrument’s vibrations caused hives. “The man hated playing the trumpet, so it was a huge relief to not to have to play anymore,” Sampson said jokingly.
Several studies published in reputable medical journals show that maintaining a healthy immune system is quite beneficial for optimal skin health and can aid in helping prevent hives and other skin conditions.
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