In this article, you’ll learn and discover ways to get rid of the hives.
Another name for hives is called urticaria. Hives are raised, red, itchy welts of a variety of sizes that appear and disappear on your skin. As many as one in five people experience acute hives at one time or another.
In most cases, hives are harmless and do not leave any lasting scars, even without treatment. The most common treatment for hives is antihistamine medications.
- Hives can be either acute or chronic.
- Acute Hives: acute hives can last from less than a day to up to six weeks
- Chronic Hives: chronic hives last more than six weeks. They sometimes can occur for months to years at a time.
- Hives are raised, red bumps of various sizes that appear and disappear on your skin. They are often itchy and may look similar to mosquito bites. Hives tend to occur in batches.
- The lesions of hives are caused by inflammation of the skin. Hives are triggered when certain cells release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream and skin.
Allergic reactions to medications or foods can cause acute hives. Some allergens include:
Foods: Many foods can cause problems in sensitive people, but shellfish, fish, nuts, eggs, and milk are frequent offenders.
- Medications: Almost any medication may cause hives are common culprits include antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and blood pressure medications.
- Other allergens: Other substances that can cause hives to include direct contact with pollen, animal dander, latex, and insect stings.
- Physical factors: Environmental factors also can result in the release of histamine with subsequent hives in some people. Examples of these factors include heat, cold, sunlight, and water, pressure on the skin, emotional stress and exercise.
Dermatographism: The name of this condition literally means, “write on the skin.
In addition to these triggers, hives may occur in response to your body’s production of antibodies. Some examples include blood transfusions; immune system disorders, such as lupus or cancer; certain thyroid disorders; and infections, such as hepatitis, or even a cold.
You may be at greater risk of hives if you:
- Had had hives before
- You experience other allergic reactions
- If you experienced a disorder associated with hives such as lupus, lymphoma or thyroid disease
- Have a family history of hives
It is sometimes impossible to determine the cause of hives. Your doctor will begin by asking you about your medical history. This may include asking you to create a detailed diary of exposure to possible irritants. It is important to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and herbal remedies, even if you do not take them every day. Your doctor may also want to conduct allergy tests, such as skin tests.
If your doctor suspects hives, he or she may ask for blood tests to check for levels and function of specific blood proteins. If your doctor suspects an allergy to food, latex, animal dander, pollen or medication, he or she may recommend allergy skin or blood tests.
Natural Home Remedies for Hives
Unless you have hives that are triggered by cold (which is rare), take a cool bath or apply a cold compress. Cold shrink the blood vessels and blocks further release of histamine. To further relieve itching, add colloidal oatmeal to the bath water and soak for 10 to 15 minutes. (Be careful getting out of the tub, however—that fine-ground oatmeal turns slippery.)
Lotion or Witch Hazel
Dab the welts with calamine lotion or witch hazel. These astringents help shrink blood vessels, so they don’t leak so much histamine.
Milk of Magnesia or Pepto-Bismol
Alternatives to calamine lotion are milk of magnesia or Pepto-Bismol. Because they are alkaline, they help to relieve the itching.
In a small cup, add a few drops of water to baking soda and stir until you get a paste. Spread the paste on the hives to help stop irritation and relieve the itching.
Cream of Tartar
Do you have some cream of tartar in your kitchen cabinet? It might be just what you need to relieve the hives. Make a paste as above and apply.
Mix 1 teaspoon of any kind of vinegar with 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water and apply the mixture to your hives with a cotton ball or tissue to soothe the itching.
Herbalists recommend nettle as an alternative to antihistamines. Take up to six 400-milligram capsules a day. Or pick a few handfuls of the weed, steam, and eat. Wear gloves, long pants, and long sleeves to guard against nettle’s stinging leaves.
An old Chinese folk remedy for hives calls for boiling one-quarter cup brown sugar and one tablespoon fresh ginger in three-quarters cup vinegar for several minutes. Mix a little of this with warm water and apply several times per day.
For a severe attack of hives, you may need an emergency injection of adrenaline (epinephrine) and a trip to the emergency room. If you have repeated, attacks, despite treatment, your doctor may prescribe and teach you how to use adrenaline to carry with you for use in emergency situations.
To lower your likelihood of experiencing hives take the following safety measures:
Avoid situations you know will cause hives
These may include certain foods or medications, or situations, such as temperature extremes, that have triggered past allergic attacks.
Keep a journal
If you suspect foods causing the problem, keep a food journal. Be aware that some foods may contain ingredients that are listed by less common names on the label.