Chronic hives, also known as chronic idiopathic uticaria (CIU), is a mysterious skin disease where patients develop lasting hives due to an unknown trigger. This unpredictable condition affects an estimated 35,000 Canadians and is most commonly seen in women – including 18-year-old Kayla Creighton from Nova Scotia.
“Most people aren’t too familiar with CIU and they definitely are more now than they were [in the past],” said Creighton, whose doctors originally mistook her condition for a food allergy. “If I would’ve had access to a website like Itching for Answers, I probably could’ve been diagnosed sooner.”
The free CIU Tracker App, created by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and available on the iTunes, helps patients track their symptoms such as location, size, quantity and duration of hives as well as storing corresponding photos. This data can be exported as a PDF document and shared with a healthcare professional.
The website also details advice on living with CIU, possible triggers, the latest news about treatment options.
These resources can be especially helpful given the sporadic nature of this condition and its symptoms.
Having lived with CIU for three-quarters of her life, Creighton says that the condition is about more than just its physical symptoms.
“It’s difficult to do daily things because I always have to plan around my disease,” says Creighton, adding that the Quality of Life tracker, which helps users keep a log of how CIU affects their day-to-day, is therefore particularly useful. “[It’s] important to track that so that your doctor understands how affected you are and what treatments need to take place in order for you to get your life as stable as possible.”