Itchy hives with swollen eyes: an acute case of Vespa vulgaris
SM, 63 years old, is tall and flamboyant. She is wearing lots of perfume and makeup. Her clothing is brightly coloured. She is assertive and speaks loudly. She angers easily.
The patient is very upset about her son’s legal problems and the fact she won’t be able to help him while she is on her road trip. She is a very involved and protective mother. She has been the main emotional and financial support for her four adult children.
SM: “I have a lot of itchy hives on my stomach; they are really swollen and burning hot. I also have some on my back, not as swollen but incredibly itchy. When I lie down at night my back gets even more itchy; scratching them just makes them worse. I have tried calendula but it doesn’t help. The only thing that helps a bit is if I use a cold wet cloth. Also, I have been waking up with swollen eyelids the last few days. I am trying to figure out whether it was it something I ate.”
The swelling can also be seen in her slightly puffy face as well as in her lower legs and feet.
SM: “I want a rest, I am burned out”. My husband and I are going away for several months on a road trip and I am looking forward to it, but I am worried. Lately I have been getting dizzy at night, maybe I am exhausted, and sometimes my heart is racing. I can’t get comfortable at night; I feel restless and I am not sleeping well. I am really worried about what is going to happen to my son. My right elbow feels really stiff and swollen. It woke me up last week with a sharp pain. My right-hand fingers have been acting up as well.”
Fears: bees, something happening to her son.
Other physicals: involuntary urination (some burning), sweating at night, mainly on the neck and face. “I had one day where my tongue seemed huge in my mouth.”
Assessment: I have treated this patient for many years and for hives/boils previously, but these hives were very different than those treated by a snake remedy five years ago. I thought of a bee but I felt that her expression of anxiety combined with fear about her son’s potential incarceration did not reflect the general anxiety I have seen expressed in Apis. In addition, she was very agitated and angry that her son’s issue could derail her upcoming road trip. The physical symptom of itchy hives which aggravated when scratched was also not part of the Apis picture.
Prescription: Vespa vulgaris 30c
Follow-up: by phone
Two weeks later: itching and swelling down, no more dizziness. SM: “Itching and redness come up a bit when I get agitated and angry. I have only had a couple of days of pain in my elbow (right) and fingers (right).” She is on an extended road trip through the South-west U.S. with her husband.
April 2012: by phone
SM: “I am not as anxious about my son and I am sleeping much better. I had a dream where I felt great; I was flying over a beautiful desert area. My eating is better as well, my appetite is back and I am not feeling nauseous anymore.” (This was not something she mentioned before.) Her joint pain has disappeared though she is still stiff in her fingers. I recommend another dose if the pain, or any other symptoms, return.
Carol Jones lives and practices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Photo: Wikipedia Commons; Tim Evison
Keywords: wasp, agitation, anxiety, family, joints, stiffness, burning, hives, swollen, eyelids, dizziness
Remedies: Vespa vulgaris