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Hives Overview

Treating Hives

The first option for treating your hives is to do nothing. While the itching may be annoying, if it's a mild enough case and it doesn't really bother you, then you can simply ride it out, waiting to see if your hives will clear up on their own.

However, if your hives aren't mild and they are causing you distress, you should talk to your general physician or dermatologist about using an antihistamine. There are a number of over-the-counter antihistamines to choose from, as well as a range of prescription drugs.

Some common over-the-counter antihistamines include diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine. And you can get over-the-counter versions of loratadine and cetirizine, which used to be prescription-only medications. Antihistamines that you can still only get with a prescription include fexofenadine, hydroxyzine, desloratadine and levocetirizine [source: Mayo Clinic]. Some antihistamines can make you drowsy, so make sure you ask your doctor about any potential side effects.

How do antihistamines work? Histamines are kind of like people vying to go to a sold-out concert -- in this case, the concert venue is your receptor site, and the histamines want an all-access pass. When your antihistamines work, they are taking up all the space at your receptor site concert venue, so the histamines can't get in. While your antihistamines are inside enjoying the concert, the histamines are left hanging outside the venue. This is a good thing because it is the histamines that are causing the allergic reaction -- in this case, the hives [source: WebMD].

In rare and special cases, your doctor may instruct you to carry an EpiPen, a portable, injectable epinephrine device for emergencies. If you have severe hives or hives that occur internally, an EpiPen could save your life in the event the swelling increases to the point where can no longer breathe [source: Saini].

Are there other options to treat hives besides using over-the-counter and prescription medications? Keep reading to learn about natural remedies for hives.