When To See A Doctor

Many episodes of hives are inconveniences that go away on their own in a day or two. But sometimes hives indicate a more serious condition, such as anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency. Get immediate medical attention if, in addition to hives, you:

  • have a lot of swelling around your face and throat
  • feel nauseated or dizzy
  • have trouble breathing
  • have a fever

In some cases, diseases such as thyroid disorders, hepatitis, lupus, or even some cancers can produce hives as a symptom. See a doctor if you develop hives that persist for four to six weeks or that are accompanied by weight loss and malaise (an overall feeling of being unwell).

Home Remedy Treatments for Hives

You know you're not supposed to scratch that itch, but what can you do about hives? Here are some tips regarding home remedies:

Take an antihistamine. The most recommended remedy is over-the-counter (OTC) Benadryl (available generically as diphenhydramine). But be forewarned: It may cause drowsiness. However, since hives tend to be worse at night, a medication that makes you sleepy may help you ignore the itching. For a list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter analgesics, click here.

Try to ferret out the cause. But don't get frustrated, since doctors are only able to identify a specific cause in 20 to 30 percent of patients. Do remember that hives generally show up within half an hour of eating, so if you break out today, you can't necessarily blame the strawberries you had for dessert last night.

Avoid the trigger. This one's pretty obvious, but if you know that cold sets off hives, don't put your hands in the freezer. In fact, jumping into cold water could be life-threatening for some hives sufferers. And there's no question that if you're prone to hives, stress will trigger them. So learn or develop ways to ease or manage stress.

Treat the underlying infection. If hives turn into a chronic problem, they may be due to an infection. For instance, an undetected dental or yeast infection could trigger an outbreak. Consider these possibilities and have them checked out.

Relieve the pressure. Hives often form where clothing is tight, such as under bra straps or waistbands. Hives on your forehead? Reconsider that old baseball cap you love to wear.

Use a moisturizer. If dry skin contributes to the itch, apply a moisturizer to relieve it.

Don't make the problem worse. Nonprescription anti-itch lotions or creams can cause allergic reactions. If you react to topical Benadryl and topical products ending in "caine," you'll be in worse shape after using them. Calamine lotion, that old standby for so many itches, doesn't do much for hives either.

Your kitchen holds many cures that can ease an outbreak of hives. Keep reading to learn more about these helpful home remedies.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.