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Surviving the Summer with CSU

Although summer can be a particularly tricky time for those living with CSU, it doesn’t have to spell the end for warm-weather fun! Luke is sharing his tips for surviving the heat (and the hives). 


Luke is a Skin to Live In writer living with Urticaria for over ten years. He’s active in the Urticaria community online and has many powerful stories to tell. He is also married and currently lives in Canada with his wife and newborn child.

The summer is my favorite season, and every spring I cross my fingers in the hopes that I will have a hive-free summer. Although wishing away hives isn’t a way to rid yourself of them, I’ve learned a few ways to make the most out of a summer despite my CSU.

Summertime, and the living is not so easy

One of the most frustrating parts of CSU is that I never know when I’ll get a flare-up. Attending weddings, beach days, vacations, BBQ’s and the like can be tricky, especially when it comes to what I should wear. I enjoy wearing tank tops, shorts and sandals – each of which are revealing (not in a scandalous sense). There is always an area that shows a bit too much of my condition, and even if I don’t have a flare-up, I worry about the scratch marks I’ve left.

The first few days of summer are the worst, because I forget how bad my skin looks when I`m bearing it all, which, coincidently, causes a flare-up. However, I’ve learned a little trick along the way: I keep a lightweight long-sleeve shirt and pants nearby. If I notice that I may be on the verge of getting a flare-up, I throw one on. It’s not just that I’m concerned about hiding my hives - the clothes are like a safety blanket, and I know my skin will feel good when I put them on because they are airy and 100% cotton.

Ahh, the summer days of my youth

When I would go to pool parties in my younger years, I would purposely “forget” my bathing suit so that I had an excuse to avoid the water. While I wanted to, it wouldn`t be worth the inquisitive stares wondering if my CSU was contagious. Most of my friends would only notice my hives in the summer, which meant I did a lot more explaining during the summertime. I had many excuses about rashes and allergic reactions. I always had to have an answer ready because people would undoubtedly ask.

As an adult, I’m a lot more open about it when I go to a party that involves bathing suits. I explain my condition upfront and people are often receptive to it. They always ask if it’s contagious, but I quickly tell them no. Some people even find it empowering that I can go without a shirt with CSU and bare my hives – who would’ve thought?

It can get easier

Things are a little different now. I’m definitely less self-conscious about my hives than I was when I was younger. Now I don’t hesitate taking my shirt off at the beach and jumping in the water. If I’ve RSVP’d to a friend’s wedding in the summer and I get a breakout the day before, I still go. I’ll be honest when I say that I’m still a little uneasy in social gatherings, and truthfully, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that, but I’m making an effort. I use to dread the moment when a friend sees my condition and assumes/asks if it’s contagious – but now I see it as an opportunity to educate them. It’s important to not let it get to you.  It’s not easy living with CSU, but summers can be a lot of fun if you keep a positive attitude and love the skin you’re in. Trust me!

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