I am a 20yo female with no significant medical history until last fall, when a couple small hives broke out on my trunk. I was busy with college finals and the holidays and really just ignored then (bad idea I now realize). Over Christmas and New Year's it progressed to showing up all over my body and even occasional swelling in my lips. The only triggers I could identify were that it was worst when I first woke up. Dealing with this at that time of year was not fun-to say the least.
Procrastination only worsened the severity, and I finally broke down and saw an allergist in February. He did all the scratch tests (upwards of $600), but nothing came out significantly abnormal. I kinda question the validity of that stupid test. When diet, body wash, and laundry detergent alterations didn't show any improvement, he started me on allergy shots. They did work, but it was such a hassle to come in every week, and the shots weren't cheap either.
Long story short, when I came home for the summer (different state), I tried to get my allergist to transfer my serum for the shots to someone in my hometown so I could continue taking them. No allergist would agree to resume the shots without an initial checkup, so I found a new allergist. She looked at the results of my test and said that she really didn't think allergy shots were necessary and that she has seen numerous other cases similar to mine clear up with simple over-the-counter medicines. Obviously, I was excited for this possibility and started taking Allegra and Benadryl at night. Unfortunately, it wasn't working. To this day, the only symptoms I've had are body-wide hives and mild-moderate facial swelling. But it was still miserable. I'd wake up in the middle of the night scratching because of the incontrollable itching. I was wearing tights, sweaters, and scarves in June to hide the unsightly marks.
After trying out different OTC meds under my allergist's supervision, she suggested trying an egg & milk-free diet. Everything cleared up almost entirely by day #2. It was awesome. Unfortunately, it didn't stay that way for long. Going back to college (it's probably aggravated by stress) caused some major flare-ups, and I am currently on a very strict diet but still having issues.
There are days when I want to give up. I really miss ice cream and cheese, and I'm beginning to worry about the long-term effects of taking so many medications (several rounds of Prednisone have been inserted over the past year due to necessity). But, I have hope that if I attempt to control the stress in my life (get enough sleep, exercise, water, etc) and maintain a healthy diet, this will become manageable. I miss being normal, but I know that this happened for a reason, and that I am not alone in this.
Thanks to anyone who makes it through this long post, and any suggestions/questions/comments are greatly appreciated. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one, and I love the idea that we can share our thoughts and try to help each other out.