“They mostly come at night…mostly.”
-Newt (Alien the movie)
I suffered (and still am) a severe outbreak of hives. First time in my life. They erupted suddenly in the wee hours of the morning eleven days after receiving a booster of the Moderna vaccine. We ruled out allergens as a cause, such as food, exposure to weird animals, travel-related interactions, laundry soap & dryer sheets, etc. And I’ve never had an allergy to anything in my life. So nothing made sense as the cause except the booster. But eleven days delayed? I was dubious. Then I started reading around. Sure enough, I’m not alone.
Spent the better part of the last four days since the onset of symptoms researching disease pathways in Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria (aka Hives). The chronic form of hives refers to a condition lasting more than six weeks, less than that and it’s classified as acute. I’d like to think this crap will resolve before six weeks, but everything I’m reading where the vaccine was the likely cause indicates maybe not.
Thing is, my particular brand of this misery, since it was not caused by an allergic reaction to food or medicine or what have you, is classified as “etiology unknown”, doctor speak for we don’t know what the cause of your type of hives is, Rod. As I said, I’m quiet certain the cause was the vaccine but I don’t think it was an allergic reaction to anything in the vaccine formula (e.g. Polythelene Glycol (PEG)). If so I would have had this problem after the first or second shot earlier this year, and I didn’t. Rather, somehow the booster shot over-activated an immune response pathway in me (and apparently in roughly 1% of all vaccine getters), presenting similar to what is seen in an allergic response, but through a different biological pathway. If this turns out to be a chronic form of hives there’s not much information on how long beyond six weeks the hives might last and what treatments work best to deal with the symptoms. The worse symptom, as any hives sufferer will tell you, is the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is because the hives come out at night and are intensely itchy. During the day the itchiness is way down, and scratching more easily resisted. Creams, ice, and antihistamines all help inhibit the itchiness and hive production but they don’t stop it entirely. Something about trying to fall asleep in a supine position in a warm bed makes it worse. Standing or sitting and focusing the attention makes the itchiness fade away I’ve found. Steroids (e.g. prednisone) suppress the immune system and they have helped tone mine down and curtail hive production, but hard to say how much.
This unfortunate experience hasn’t turned me into an anti-vaxxer, although to be completely honest, had I known this would happen I would not have gotten a booster. There are other ways to protect yourself from getting infected with the virus and getting sick with COVID, like staying home and going out only when necessary. Not ideal, but practically speaking HW and I are now able to do that.
And now if you don’t mind I’m off to try and get some sleep. Not optimistic.