Schneck Medical Center

SUM 2015

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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1 5 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S U M M E R 2 015 S P I R I T O F W O M E N Treatment options are available for chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU), ranging from antihistamines to immunosuppressive medications, according to the National Institutes of Health. But the condition is frequently underdiagnosed, says Dr. Beth Corn, a board-certifed allergist and a member of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America national board of directors. "That's why if someone … has chronic hives that come and go out of nowhere, they should seek out a specialist such as an allergist or dermatologist who is knowledgeable about CIU," says Dr. Corn. "[The website] has a questionnaire that allows you to track the frequency of the hives, where the hives appear, how itchy they are, etc.," Dr. Corn adds. "This is a very helpful tool to walk into the specialist's offce with so you can move forward." Treating CIU stationery bike, my trainer, walking with my dogs. I meditate too," she says. Although she admits that sticking to a healthy diet can be difficult when she's out touring on the road, "I try to stay South Beach-y," she laughs. "It works. I eat lots of vegetables and protein." And with her CIU under control, Lawrence is happily hive-free now. She knows she may have another bout one day, but if that happens she'll be prepared for it, she says. "I was lucky enough to find a treatment that worked for me … and the treatment was pretty quick to work," she says. "I want to be open about my condition to show others that they are not alone in their struggle with this form of chronic hives." • PHOTO Y KEVIN SCOTT HEES V icki Lawrence is used to looking at the comic side of life, from her early career on "The Carol Burnett Show" to her current one-woman road show featuring her down-to-earth sense of humor. But it was no laughing matter four years ago when Lawrence suddenly felt an itchy outbreak of hives spread over her body as she was out walking her dogs near her Southern California home. "You just can't stop scratching—you go nuts," she says. "I actually put welts all over my body from scratching. I was miserable. When I got home I stood in a cold shower, I put menthol lotion all over my body. I was actually hoping that I would pass out just to get away from it for a few minutes." Lawrence made a beeline for her longtime allergist but then "went through six weeks of trial and error and I was still itching like mad," she recalls. At that point, her physician diagnosed her with chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU), a form of chronic hives with no known cause that women are twice as likely as men to experience. SPEAKING OUT ABOUT CIU Lawrence says that while she's grateful she was able to be successfully treated after her CIU was diagnosed, she was dismayed at the lack of CIU resources online. So she was delighted when she was asked to serve as a spokesperson for the new CIU & You educational campaign (, supported by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). "I had googled it [CIU] a number of times, and there just wasn't a lot of information," she says. "If I can put a familiar face out there and make CIU more approachable … people can say, maybe this is me and feel hopeful and get to the bottom of it [chronic hives]." 'MAMA' ON THE ROAD Lawrence has been a familiar face since she joined Carol Burnett's fledgling TV variety series in 1967 when she was just 18. Her role there as "Mama" Thelma Harper led to her own TV series called "Mama's Family" after "The Carol Burnett Show" ended, and today Lawrence tours year-round with "Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show." "It's a blast and we go all over the place," she says. Lawrence also makes time to speak to women's organizations about her life and career, women's health, and being a woman in a man's world, she says. To help maintain her energy level for her busy schedule, she keeps up an exercise regimen that includes "my little What are hives? • Red, white or fesh-colored bumps with distinct edges that may change shape; red hives turn pale when pressed in the center • Mildly to severely itchy • Often occur on the chest, back, arms and legs but can show up anywhere on the body; can disappear from one area and then reappear in a different area Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

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