Natural Treatments for Hives
How to Prevent Hives
Hives are a type of skin rash that results from an allergic reaction. They can last minutes or days. They occur from a variety of different allergens. If you are prone to hives, save yourself some discomfort by learning how to prevent them.
Learning How To Prevent Hives
Avoid known allergens.The first and easiest approach to prevent hives is to avoid the allergen, such as by not touching it or wearing clothing to protect your skin from coming into contact with it by accident. This means avoiding situations where you may be exposed to the allergen or learning how to adapt to unavoidable situations.
- For example, if you have a food allergy that causes hives, refrain from eating that food. When you go out to eat or eat at someone else’s home, inform them that you have a food allergy. Ask if which dishes are not made with that particular food.
- If you have sun hives, you should take caution when outside in the sun. Wear hats and long-sleeved shirts. Wear sunscreen to avoid getting a sunburn. Avoid long periods in the direct sunlight and find places to stand in the shade.
- Protect your skin from poison ivy and pets that have come into contact with poison ivy by wearing long pants and long sleeves.
- If you have pressure hives, avoid wearing tight clothing. You may also want to avoid synthetic fabrics since these can lead to hives as well.
- To prevent temperature hives, avoid extreme hot and cold temperatures. Don’t swim in cold water, and if you do, make sure not to swim alone. Wear a scarf around your nose and head when walking in cold weather. Wear warm clothing and layers when in the cold.
- You can learn how to treat hives for those times when you get in a situation where you can’t prevent hives.
Undergo allergy testing.Some allergens that cause hives can be determined by going through a process of allergy skin testing. There are two main forms of allergy testing. The allergen can be scratched into your skin, or a very small amount can be injected into the skin. These are not very painful but can be uncomfortable, especially if you react to the substance.
- Most positive reactions will occur within minutes, usually within 20 to 30 minutes. Delayed reactions may occur as well within 24 to 48 hours.
- For young children and babies, a blood sample may be taken and tested.
- In some people who may be at risk for anaphylaxis, who are taking certain medications, or who have severe skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, a blood sample may be taken to avoid severe skin reactions.
- The skin tests may have to be repeated for a wide variety of allergens, but you should know that the specific allergen that you react to may not be a part of the panel of allergens tested, so it is possible that even after testing, you still will not know what it is you should avoid.
Keep a hives diary.If the testing doesn’t identify the allergen, try keeping a diary to see if you can narrow down the possibilities. Write down any minor thing that could cause them, even if you’re not sure it’s the cause. Especially pay attention to hives that occur in similar situations, or hives that only occur when exposed to specific circumstances.
- Keep track of what you eat, what medicines you take, and what environmental allergens may be around. Environmental allergens include pets, dust, and plants.
- Also keep track of any drastic temperature changes or physical injury, such as scrapes or scratches that may cause any hives.
- Vibrations can cause hives, so keep a log of things you touch that vibrate, like speakers with heavy bass, lawn mowers, or jack hammers.
- Stress can also lead to hives even though it is not an allergen. Take time to manage your stress if this is a trigger for you.
Soak the hives.For mild cases of hives, the most common and effective way to treat the hives is to soak the hives in lukewarm water or with a cool compress. For any case of hives, avoid any rubbing or itching because it makes hives worse.
- Soak a cloth in lukewarm water and press it to the affected area. If you have hives all over your body, soak in a tub of lukewarm water. Soak the area for ten to twenty minutes.
- Soak a cloth in cold water or place a wet cloth in the refrigerator. Place the compress soaked in cool water against the affected and itchy area.
Use antihistamines.For a case of hives that is moderate, antihistamines are often used. Antihistamines are designed to block histamine, which leads to the hives.These may be over-the-counter medications your purchased at the drugstore or prescription antihistamines you got from your doctor. Antihistamines you can use include:
- Sedating antihistamines like Brompheniramine (Dimetane), Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- Non-sedating antihistamines like Cetirizine (Zyrtec, Zyrtec-D), Clemastine (Tavist), Fexofenadine (Allegra, Allegra D), and Loratadine (Claritin, Claritin D, Alavert)
- OTC corticosteroids in nasal sprays, like Triamcinolone acetonide (Nasacort), and prescription corticosteroids including Prednisone, Prednisolone, Cortisol, and Methylprednisolone
- Mast-cell stabilizers, such as Cromolyn sodium (Nasalcrom)
- Leukotriene inhibitors like Montelukast (Singulair)
- Topical immune-modulating substances like Tacrolimus (Protopic) and Pimecrolimus (Elidel)
Try anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements.A number of herbs and supplements have natural anti-inflammatory activity. You may be able to prevent hives by taking these natural supplements daily. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on the dosage. Do not use these remedies for children under the age of five unless under the care of a physician.
- Rutin is a natural bioflavonoid found in citrus fruits and buckwheat. It can function to reduce inflammation and swelling by limiting the leakage from blood vessels.Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dosages.
- Quercetin, which is produced in the body from rutin, can also be effective in reducing inflammation and swelling. In addition, quercetin has been found to be more effective than the prescription drug cromolyn in blocking histamine release.Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dosages.
- Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples. Bromelain can help reduce the swelling of hives.You can take bromelain as a supplement as instructed by the manufacturer’s directions.
- Coleus forskohlii is used in Ayurvedic medicine and has been found to reduce histamine and leukotriene release from mast cells.Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dosages as a supplement.
- Nettles have been traditionally used to treat hives.The scientific name of nettles is Urtica dioica, and the term urticaria is derived from that name. Make a cup of nettles tea using one teaspoon of the dried herb in a cup of water, and allow it to cool. Use as often as needed, usually about three to four cups a day.
Use epinephrine for anaphylaxis due to severe hives.Anaphylaxis is a severe, sometimes life-threatening, allergic reaction that may sometimes occur with the appearance of hives. In rare cases, hives can cause swelling in the throat and can cause an emergency situation that requires epinephrine. Epinephrine can also be used as an EpiPen in those who are severely allergic to a particular substance and require epinephrine to avoid anaphylaxis.
- The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include:
- Skin rashes which may include hives. There may be itching and flushed or pale skin.
- A sense of warmth
- The sensation or feeling of a lump in the throat
- Wheezing or other difficulty in breathing
- A swollen tongue or throat
- A rapid pulse and heartbeat
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Dizziness or fainting
- If you or anyone you know experience any of these symptoms, get immediate medical care.
- If your child or another loved one has a prescription for an EpiPen, make sure you know where it is and how to use it. Talk to your physician and pharmacist to get instructions on when and how to use these.
- The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include:
Talk to your doctor about chronic hives.If hives become a chronic or long-term problem, you should ask your physician for a referral to a specialist. An allergist can test you in order to determine, if possible, the cause of your allergic reaction.
- These allergy tests will cover foods, plants, chemicals, insects, and insect bites.
Identify hives.Hives are also known as urticaria. They are raised, reddish, itchy bumps on the skin that, when pressed, turn white. Most of the time, hives are round, though separate hives can appear to merge into what looks like a large, irregularly shaped welt.
- Hives can appear on any area of the body, though the most common area for hives is at or around the same area that was actually exposed to the allergen.
- Hives can last minutes or days, and in very rare cases, even months and years.
- Anyone can get hives. About 20% of the population have experienced them at one time or another. Hives occur on the young, the old, male and female.
Recognize the trigger for your hives.Hives occur after exposure to an allergen. The allergic response is when the immune response defends your body against anything it recognizes as not belonging in an excessive, uncontrolled way.
- Allergens are everywhere in the environment surrounding us. Allergens that trigger hives can be certain foods, prescription or OTC medication, insect bites and stings, a chemical, a polymer such as latex, an infection, pet hair or dander, pollen, plants, and even physical stimuli, such as pressure, a scratch, temperature, and sun exposure.
Diagnose your hives.The diagnosis of hives is generally straightforward because hives have a distinctive appearance usually only requiring a visual examination. Determining what caused the hives, and therefore preventing future cases of hives, can be more difficult.
- Unless you know from experience, from seeing the insect or spider that bit you, or are aware of the food or medication that caused the hives, you may need allergy tests that test for skin reactions to a variety of substances.
- You may also need to undergo blood tests and sometimes a skin biopsy to examine the skin under a microscope.
Sources and Citations
- Boyle, S. P., Dobson, V. L., Duthie, S. J., Hinselwood, D. C., Kyle, J. A., and Collins, A. R. Bioavailability and efficiency of rutin as an antioxidant: a human supplementation study. Eur.J Clin.Nutr. 2000;54(10):774-782.
- Rehn D, Nocker W, Diebschlag W, et al. Time course of the anti-oedematous effect of different dose regimens of O-(beta-hydroxyethyl) rutosides in healthy volunteers. Arzneimittelforschung 1993;43(3):335-338
- Weng Z, Zhang B, Asadi S, Sismanopoulos N, Butcher A, Fu X, et al. (2012) Quercetin Is More Effective than Cromolyn in Blocking Human Mast Cell Cytokine Release and Inhibits Contact Dermatitis and Photosensitivity in Humans. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33805.
- Cummings AJ, Olsen M.Mechanism of action of stinging nettles. Wilderness Environ Med. 2011 Jun;22(2):136-9.
Video: Allergy Symptoms & Treatments : How to Get Rid of Allergy Hives
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