How to Get Rid of Hives

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How to Get Rid of Hives

Hives are also known as urticaria in the medical word. It is an outbreak of pale red wheals on the skin. They may be itchy or painful, with a burning or stinging feeling, or they may not otherwise be noticeable to the person who has them. It might be a response to an allergy or some other unknown cause. But before being able to rid yourself of them there are some key things you need to know about them first.

Where do Hives Occur

Many people assume that hives occur on the trunk of the body or on the limbs. However, these are common areas for hives to form, but they can actually appear anywhere on the body, including these areas and the face, lips, and eyes. Some of the remedies for treating hives are safe to use on all areas of the body they might appear, while others should only be used in specific areas. Make sure you know which areas are safe to use a specific treatment before continuing.

How Long do Hives Last

One common question is how long do hives occur, and when can you expect them to go away. Sometimes they may last a couple of hours, while others may result in them lasting for days. A lot of it has to do with the cause of the hives, and whether or not the body continues to be exposed to anything that has caused it or not.

Hives can also vary greatly in size, and often form together in groups. Hives may begin small and several of them in an area, and as more form in the area they begin to resemble a single larger hive known as plagues. While not always the case, larger plaques may take longer to disappear than smaller hives do.

Do Not Confuse Other Ailments for Hives

Many people often think they have hives, but actually have a different skin ailment. One such skin condition is known as angioedema. Angioedema looks very similar and causes swelling and red patches on the skin. However, the swelling from hives appears from the top of the skin, while angioedema results in swelling from under the skin. Angioedema usually forms around the mouth and eyes, but can also form around the groin and on hands and feet.

Causes of Allergic Hives

Hives form as your body’s response to an allergic reaction. When your body comes into something that it is allergic to your blood vessels release a chemical histamines. These histamines are then excreted into the skin and cause hives to form. This is one reason why antihistamines are often prescribed to treat allergic reactions. They help to prevent the histamines from being formed in the body, and can reduce and sometimes even prevent the allergic reaction from occurring at all.

There are a number of different things that can cause allergic hives to form. It could be from food or beverages, body care products like soaps and lotions, insect bites, and even some medications can cause the allergic reaction to form. Because it is always not easy to know for certain what has caused the reaction, it is possible for the reaction to happen again with repeated exposure until it is eliminated.

Causes of Acute Hives

Acute hives are usually a result of allergic hives, and last less than six weeks; however, they may not be from an allergic response. Some of the most common food culprits for triggering hives include nuts, fish, eggs, chocolate, and dairy. Some preservatives and food enhancers can also trigger hives to form.

Food that had been eaten previously may cause hives later on without warning, especially if the first time being exposed to the food it was cooked and following times it was not cooked. This is because when food is cooked it is often altered, and the body is often times less likely to react to it than in the raw form.

Similarly, medications can also cause acute hives to occur. Some of the most common culprits include pain medications and antibiotics; however, any medication has the potential to cause an allergic reaction.

Causes of Chronic Hives

Chronic hives are those which last for a period of six weeks or longer. These cases of hives are often time harder to identify the cause, as exposure is often been over a longer period of time, and it is not easy to identify the item as it is with something newly introduced to the person.

Chronic hives are also commonly a result of other underlying medical conditions which need to be addressed, including types of infections, thyroid disorders, certain types of cancer, and possibly hepatitis. The only way to rule these illnesses out is to see your physician for a complete evaluation and lab work.

Chronic hives can also be more concerning because the prolonged effects of them on other organs in the body can be experienced, like a person’s ability to breathe or digest food properly.

Causes of Hives from Physical Stimulation

Other causes of hives come from an external stimulation to a person’s skin. This might be a result of extreme changes in temperature, like excessive heat or cold. Pressure being applied to the skin or excessive sweat may also trigger hives to form in these cases as well. When this happens, the hive generally form on the part of the skin that was exposed to the stimulus and usually disappear fairly quickly.

Scratching or rubbing the skin causes stimulation to the skin as well, but is specifically called dermatographism, and may or may not occur with other types of hives at the same time.

Treatment of Hives

The most common form of treatment for hives is the use of an antihistamine, which can be purchased over the counter or prescribed by a doctor. This helps the body to stop producing histamines which can trigger hives. However, in order for the hives to not return, it is important to make sure the person is not continuously exposed to the source of the reaction.

This may mean eliminating new foods or medications which the person has recently been exposed to, or it may require some basic lab work to rule out environmental allergies that can cause hives to form.

If antihistamines do not provide relief from hives, a doctor can prescribe steroids to help speed up the healing process. The steroid will help to reduce the inflammation and the wheals will begin to subside. If hives are so severe that they are disrupting a person’s ability to breath or swallow, and injection of epinephrine may be required from your physician or the emergency department for them to resolve.

While Waiting for Hives to Subside

There are some home remedies which can be done while waiting for the antihistamine to take affect. One thing is to wear loose clothing. This will help to reduce the friction on the skin, and help to keep sweat from sitting on the skin, making the skin feel less irritated. Secondly, you can try to remain cool. Use cold compresses on the skin. Sit in front of a fan, or sit in air conditioning.

All of these will help to reduce sweat on the skin and help to cool the hives which can have a stinging feeling. However, if possible, do not use excessive heat to treat hives. Heat can actually cause the inflammation of the skin to worsen instead of improving.

Lastly, you can take an oatmeal bath to help relieve the itching. Take a cup of dry oatmeal and put it in lukewarm bath water. Do not use hot water as it can make the hives worse instead of better. Stir the water gently, and then allow it to sit for a few minutes before soaking in the tub. If you want an easier way to clean up an oatmeal bath, you can place the oatmeal in an old pair of nylon stockings and tie the end of it. Let it soak in the water for a few minutes before getting into the tub.

When to Go to the Emergency Department

Usually hives are not life threatening, but there are rare occurrences when they can obstruct a person’s ability to breath or swallow. If this is the case, you should immediately go to the emergency room the nearest hospital. Otherwise, you can simply treat hives at home with the mentioned home remedies and an over the counter antihistamine.

If they improve in a few day, you should be fine. But if they continue to persist, it may be necessary to contact your physician for a general office visit to obtain a prescription for an oral steroid to help speed up the healing process. Also, if you suspect that it is your medication causing your hives to appear, you should immediately call your doctor’s office to consult with them on whether or not you should continue to take the medication or not. They might prescribe you a different drug entirely to ensure you are not going to have a greater allergic reaction which could prove to be more serious.