Hives is a skin rash that comes on suddenly. The skin turns red and blotchy and small raised welts that look like mosquito bites pop up all over. Although hives is rarely dangerous it can be quite uncomfortable, unsightly and troublesome. Sometimes, hives disappear almost as quickly as it appeared. Other times, hives can stick around for years or even decades. Here are some remedies that will provide relief.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- H-2 blocker
- Ice pack
Rule out poison oak or poison, ivy or sumac. These plants have an oil that irritates the skin causing "contact dermatitis." They cause an ugly, oozing rash wherever the body has come into contact with them. Hives and other common rashes are generally red and blotchy, but do not ooze. If you have been walking in the woods and have an itchy, oozing rash you probably have come into contact with one of these plants. Follow the link below in the Resources section.
Make sure that you are not in any danger. Hives is often a sign of an allergic reaction. If you have swelling in your throat or severe shortness of breath, you may be coming down with a severe allergic reaction. If your hives become large welts, it can also be a sign of a serious problem. Go to the hospital right away.
Put ice on the area. If your hives are only on one part of your body, you can use a bag of ice wrapped in a cloth of paper towel. If you are covered with hives, you may get some relief from taking a very cold bath.
Take an antihistamine. Histamine produced in your body is one of the key triggers of hives. The over-the-counter antihistamine diphenhydramine sold under the brand name benadryl is quick acting and may help cause your hives to subside.
Take an h-2 blocker. An H-2 blocker, such as Zantac, is commonly used to treat stomach and digestive complaints, but can also help treat hives.
Get somewhere to decompress. Hives can be caused by stress, environmental allergens, diseases and food allergies. Stop eating, go somewhere quiet and take a few deep breaths. This will probably get you away from the trigger and give you a chance to think about what caused the hives.
Rule out a viral cause. Even minor viruses can occasionally cause hives. If you came down with a flu or cold three to five days before you got hives, that is probably the cause. The rash should go away within a few more days.
Think about possible psychological causes. Both chronic and acute stresses can cause hives. Have you been under a lot of stress or put in an uncomfortable situation recently? Sometimes the connection is obvious--for example, if you receive some very bad news and immediately break out in a rash, the rash is almost certainly stress induced. In other cases, the cause is less obvious. Try meditating, avoiding stressful situations and getting plenty of rest.
Think about possible allergic causes. Food allergies are one of the most common causes of hives. It could be a food you don't usually eat, or a new allergy you are developing to something you do eat. If you think you may have allergic hives, keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat in a notebook and notice if your rash recurs or gets worse within a few minutes to a few hours after a meal.
Think about skin irritants. Sometimes, certain detergents, lotions and even soaps can cause hives. Try washing your clothes in perfume-free detergent and using a hypoallergenic soap.
Go to the doctor. If you have been unable to find the cause and still have the rash, your doctor may be able to help you treat the condition.
Tips and warnings
- Most rashes are not dangerous. There are, however, a number of life-threatening ones that necessitate immediate medical care. See the link below for a list.
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