Hives refers to a skin condition that can happen as a result of an allergy. It appears as a rash characterized by pink, raised, itchy bumps on the skin. Other common causes can include suffering from a cold, insect bites, food chemicals, and medication.
Symptoms of Hives
Hives often trigger itching on the infected skin. There will be an appearance of red bumps each of which will have clearly defined edges. The spots can range from a few millimeters to several inches in diameter. Sometimes multiple hives can also appear to be connected. The rash on the outside of the skin is usually followed by swelling beneath the skin.
It is easy to get rid of hives if the case is mild. In fact, it can be treated with simple yet effective home remedies. But other cases of hives can linger on and should be checked by a doctor.
Hives may appear and disappear over time.
Causes of Hives
Hives is caused as a reaction when some toxic substance enters the body. To protect it from this foreign substance, the body releases histamine into the blood vessels of the skin. Histamine causes the blood vessels to leak resulting in swelling under the skin. This creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth which triggers the formation of hives’ welts.
That is why the most suitable treatment involves using antihistamines to get rid of hives. Some of the most common causes of this condition includes the following:
- Food allergies caused by cheese, eggs, shellfish and peanuts are the most common types. For food related allergies, it is important to remove possible triggers from the diet. To do this, you may want to keep a food journal and record everything you eat. This practice can help you identify trigger foods, if any.
- Environmental elements such as chemicals, pollen or dust mites can also be culprits for causing hives. If you are able to identify your trigger, you can get rid of hives by staying away from it.
- A latex allergy can also bring about hives. This may be more noticeable in health care workers who use latex gloves. If your allergy is diagnosed, you could try using latex free gloves.
- Bites and stings from insects can cause hives in some people. Some people may react more severely to stings and bites and may need immediate medical attention.
- Reactions to medications like NSAIDs, antibiotics or aspirin can sometimes cause a hives breakout. If you suspect this to be the case, then speak with your doctor immediately. Your doctor may recommend a different treatment for your original condition, and one that won’t give you hives.
- Physical reactions caused by temperature changes, sunlight, water, stress and exercise. This means you will need to shield your skin from harsh environmental factors.
- Underlying health conditions that are not diagnosed may also cause hives. It is important to consult with a medical professional to see if this is the case. For example conditions like bacterial or viral infections, intestinal parasites or reactions to blood transfusions may cause you to break out in hives. Other possible cause could be thyroid issues, immune disorders or lymphoma.
In a number of cases, the triggers may remain unknown.
How Long Does Hives Last?
Typically acute hives can last for around six weeks. Most often the cause behind this condition is food, infections or medications. But there can also be cases of hives where the rash stays for much longer.
This is known as long term hives or an auto immune reaction. The triggers of long term hives can be summarized as the following:
- Warm temperatures
- Stings and bites
- Heat, cold or water exposure
Many of these causes happen overtime or with habit. This can make getting rid of hives or complete recovery more difficult. That is why hives may reappear continually over time.
How Is Hives Diagnosed?
Because there can be so many causes for the condition, it is important to get a diagnosis before you can try to get rid of hives.
In most cases, the skin specialist or dermatologist will look at the skin and review your health history. In some cases, the patient may also need specific tests done. These can often include
- Allergy tests- on the skin or blood
- Blood work
- Skin biopsy
How to Get Rid Of Hives without Medication
The red bumps classified as hives can stick around for many weeks. This can be very uncomfortable as hives tend to be itchy. You can try medication to get rid of hives. But if you prefer, there are also a number of natural remedies that can help you get rid of hives and its associated discomfort. Some of these natural treatment options include the following:
Use A Cold, Wet Cloth
You can try to minimize the swelling and inflammation of hives by using a cold compress. Do this by using a clean, damp cloth or a wet towel. Soak it well with cold water and rinse out the excess liquid.
Apply the cloth or towel to the affected patch of skin for about 15 minutes. Leave in place to get relief from the swelling and itching. Repeat this procedure a couple of times a day as needed.
Try an Ice Pack
If your skin can tolerate it, try using an ice pack. Some people with sensitive skin may not be able to handle an ice pack and should stick with a cold, wet cloth. But others can use ice to get rid of hives and soothe the irritated skin.
To use an ice pack, make sure to wrap the ice in a towel and not put it directly on the skin. Doing so can cause the risk of frostbite. If you do not have an ice pack on hand, you can use a bag of frozen vegetables instead.
Apply the pack for about 10 minutes before removing and reapplying. This will give the skin a chance to warm up again before the next application.
Take an Oatmeal Bath to Get Rid of Hives
If hives spread to a larger area of the body, then you can sooth the inflammation by taking an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal contains nutrients and oils which can alter the pH balance of the skin. When his happens, the irritation of hives subsides and the itchiness is reduced.
You can prepare a homemade oatmeal bath by grinding one cup of oatmeal into a fine powder and sprinkling it into a running bath. Soak in this water for about half an hour to get relief from the discomfort of hives.
Or you could purchase an oatmeal bath solution from the market.
Use Baking Soda
You can also add in some baking soda to a bath. Baking soda has anti-inflammatory features that can help you get rid of hives discomfort by reducing itching. The grains in baking soda can act as a gentle exfoliator and aid in restoring the skin’s pH levels.
Or you can make a baking soda paste to get rid of hives. Do this by mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with some cold water to make a paste. Apply paste to the irritated skin and let dry. Once the paste is completely dry, wash it off and repeat a few times every day.
Use Some Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is a very beneficial treatment for most skin conditions. It possesses antioxidant properties which are necessary for skin revival and healing. In the case of hives, it can be very effective in soothing the itchiness and reducing the swelling.
Aloe vera also has antiseptic properties which can protect the infected skin against further infection. Its gel like consistency forms a protective layer on the skin and its cooling properties help keep irritated skin moisturized.
The gel from the aloe plant contains two hormones. These hormones yield anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties that reduce skin inflammation. One of the hormones also acts as a growth hormone and stimulates the growth of new skin cells. This allows the skin to heal quickly and naturally. At the same time, it also prevents scarring.
To use aloe vera gel, slice the leaf and extract the gel. Apply it topically onto the rash to get rid of hives. If you do not have access to fresh aloe vera leaves, you can get the gel readymade as well.
Wear Comfortable Clothing to Get Rid Of Hives
One of the factors causing recurrent hives could be wearing tight fitting clothing. Tight clothing and non-breathable fabrics tend to hold and lock in sweat against the skin. This can cause skin temperature to overheat and irritate the skin.
To prevent this from happening, wear loose and comfortable clothing. Another thing to consider is to choose fabrics that allow the skin to breathe. Avoid wearing scratchy or highly textured fabrics like wool. Instead settle for soft and smooth fabrics like cotton for maximum relief. This will help keep your skin cool and dry and assist in getting rid of hives.
Try Some Quercetin
Quercetin is a common flavonoid found in many fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a natural antihistamine with anti-inflammatory potential. This feature makes it very effective in treating allergies and getting rid of hives.
Quercetin can assist in stabilizing the release of histamines and other inflammatory agents. This action can help reduce the irritation and itching associated with hives.
Quercetin can be obtained from some foods like onions, green tea, apples and red wine. But since you will need more quercetin supplies when suffering from an allergy, it is best to take it in supplemental form.
You can up your vitamin C intake to get rid of hives. This vitamin has been studied to reduce the effects of histamine and can provide possible relief from the discomfort of hives.
Supplementing vitamin C to get rid of hives can prevent the secretion of histamine by white blood cells and increase detoxification. Experts recommend a minimum of 1,000 mg of this vitamin for everyone daily. If you suffer from allergies, you may want to raise this amount to double to fight allergic reactions.
The one thing to keep in mind when supplementing vitamin C is that it goes in and out of the body within 6 hours. This means that you should take vitamin C in divided doses instead of in one go. You can also up your intake by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
Add in a Witch Hazel Treatment
When applied topically, witch hazel works as an astringent. This action can help shrink blood vessels beneath the skin and limit the amount of histamine released.
Dabbing witch hazel on irritated skin several times a day can help calm the inflammation and ease irritation.
If you use witch hazel with aloe vera, it may help reduce the itching as well. While witch hazel may not help you get rid of hives completely, it will keep it from aggravating.
Stinging Nettle to Get Rid of Hives
Stinging nettle is a perennial plant that has been used for treating seasonal allergies and getting rid of hives. It has a lot of potential to alleviate common allergy symptoms that can make you feel miserable otherwise. Experts believe that the nettles of the plant actually desensitize the body to allergens and lower the reaction to allergens overtime.
To get rid of hives, you can use stinging nettle in a number of different ways. For example you can prepare a tea as a natural allergy relief remedy. The leaves and flowers of the plant can be dried and used in the tea. Let leaves steep in boiling water for a few minutes before drinking.
Stinging nettle leaves can also be stemmed and cooked in a manner similar to spinach. When they are cooked, add the leaves into a soup or stew. You can also puree the leaves and use them in recipes like green smoothies, polenta, pesto and salads.
Another way to use stinging nettle is to apply it topically. Its extract, root tinctures, and creams can be applied directly to the skin to relieve irritation. Or you can purchase stinging nettle tablets and capsules to take orally.
Change Your Diet
Since there are many foods which are high in histamine, it becomes important to watch what you eat. Foods rich in histamine include tomatoes, avocadoes, spinach, fermented drinks and processed meats. Others include vinegar, yogurt, yeast extract, sour cream and some cheeses.
An elimination diet can help you identify your triggers. You can then get rid of hives by removing these foods from your diet.
Avoid Possible Triggers
A huge number of hives cases are triggered by the elements such as the sun, water, cold and heat. Plus, there are also environmental irritants like perfumes and scents, fabric softeners, body washes and soaps. If you use a new bath product or switch your laundry detergent, it can cause a reaction.
If a change from your regular grooming products causes a hives outbreak, you should avoid such triggers.
Medical Treatments to Get Rid of Hives
If home remedies do not give you relief in getting rid of hives, then try some antihistamines. These are available as over-the-counter medications. But if your case of hives is more severe, you may need to take prescription medications.
Antihistamines are the first line of treatment for this condition and are extremely effective in reducing inflammation and itching. But you need to be careful when using these medications. Many antihistamines can make you drowsy so you cannot drive or do activities that need focus.
Plus, antihistamine are not recommended for pregnant women.
Corticosteroids are prescribed when antihistamines do not work. These are a more severe classification of medications as they work by lowering your immune response.
Corticosteroids should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor. These medications can involve certain side effects.
Other Medical Treatments to Get Rid of Hives
Some of the more severe treatments to get rid of hives can include using H2 antihistamines. These are not the same as OTC antihistamines. They also work by narrowing blood vessels but may come with specific side effects.
Can Stress Cause Hives?
While it may seem unusual, some people do break out in hives when they are overly stressed. Stress can bring about chaos on your physical and emotional health. You can start to feel overwhelmed about the source of the stress and that can lead to a break out of hives.
When you are exposed to too much stress, your body’s immune system falters. As a result, it can start sending histamine into the body to combat what is stressing you. A stress induced case of hives is not often a cause for concern for it can be treated at home.
However, the unfortunate thing here is that stress cannot be treated with an anti-histamine. So instead of getting rid of hives, the histamine starts to make an appearance on your face, neck, chest and other body parts as hives.
This type of hives is known as stress hives. The symptoms are similar to those of typical hives caused by an allergy. But, the treatment is different since you cannot rely on antihistamines anymore.
How to get rid of stress hives
To get rid of hives caused by stress, you will need to make an effort to get rid of the stress itself. You know when you are stressed, so try the following techniques to de-stress:
Meditation is a well-known technique to relax and can help you clear your mind. When you are overly stressed, take some time out to close your eyes, meditate and release the stress. You can choose a form of meditation from the following:
- Guided visualization is used for relieving stress among other things. This form of meditation lets you imagine relaxing and positive experiences by imagining a calm situation in the mind.
- Transcendental meditation is a technique to detach oneself from anxiety by letting the mind become calm and in a state of rest. This is a fairly advanced technique and can be learned under guided teaching.
- Qi gong focuses on improving posture, respiration and the ability to relax. This form of de-stressing can incorporate breathing techniques and movement to get rid of stress.
- Mindfulness lets you relax by sitting down with closed eyes. You cross your legs and keep the back straight. With this method you can learn to get rid of your stress by focused breathing.
Meditation to get rid of hives may not be the way to relax for everyone. Because meditation requires you to focus and remain calm, it could annoy you instead. If you find it hard to meditate, then try to exercise instead.
Like some people, moving up and getting regular exercise may work better for you to relax. Exercising is also beneficial in uplifting the mood and releasing endorphins. Choose a physical activity that you enjoy thoroughly, so that you can release your stress.
Based on your physical state, you can choose the level of your exercise. A lot of people enjoy activities like walking, jogging, cycling or swimming to de-stress.
When to See a Doctor
If you have are having trouble getting rid of hives with regular medications, you may need to see a skin specialist.
In some rare cases, hives can cause swelling in the throat. This may present an emergency situation that requires the use of epinephrine. You may need an EpiPen if you feel any of the following:
- Severe skin rash
- Warm sensation
- Lump in throat
- Swollen tongue
- Swelling in throat
- Rapid pulse and heartbeat
- Severe diarrhea
- Cold clammy skin
- Dizziness or fainting
- Tightness in chest
Can Hives Ever Be A Medical Emergency?
Hives occur as an allergic reaction. In this sense, anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. You may experience severe breathing difficulties or lose consciousness. In this case, the allergic reaction is not only restricted to the skin but can involve the whole body.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that needs to be treated right away.