Hives are a type of skin rash that cause itchiness and irritation. They usually manifest as raised, red bumps or welts and can affect people of any age on any part of the body. They’re most often caused by irritants or foods that result in an allergic reaction, but can also be due to stress, heat, cold or exercise. Essentially anything that can cause an allergy can also cause hives. If you want to know how to get rid of hives, we’ve compiled 6 natural remedies for relief.
What Are Hives?
Hives, also known as urticaria, are red, itchy skin welts that are most commonly caused by an allergic reaction to something. They’re often raised and may look swollen, but are not contagious. Hives can range in size from small spots to large blotches and can be triggered by situations and substances like foods and medications.
Most hives appear quickly and go away within 24 hours. This is known as acute hives. As hives clear, new ones can form on the same or different areas of skin. Most people get new hives for a few days to a few weeks. Chronic hives can last for months or years. If new hives continue to appear for six weeks or longer, you most likely have chronic hives.
Hives may be accompanied by angioedema, which causes swelling in the deeper layers of skin, often around the face, mouth, lips and eyelids. Angioedema is uncomfortable, but usually harmless. However, it can be life threatening if it causes swelling in your mouth or throat or causes problems breathing. Seek immediate medical attention if this occurs.
What Are the Symptoms of Hives?
- Raised welts that are round, oval or worm-shaped
- Range in size from pea size to as large as a dinner plate
- A rash that is reddish on light skin or purplish on darker skin
- Itchiness- ranges from mild to severe
- May also experience burning or stinging
- Blanching (when pressed, the centre of a red hive turns white)
What Causes Hives?
Hives are triggered when you have an allergic reaction to something like a food, fabric or chemical. Allergic reactions happen when your immune system comes into contact with an allergen. The allergy causes your body to release a protein called histamine, which results in itching, swelling and redness. Hives can be caused by certain situations and substances such as:
- Foods (especially nuts, eggs and shellfish)
- Medications such as antibiotics (specifically penicillin and sulfa), aspirin and ibuprofen
- Insect stings or bites
- Chemical irritants in products like laundry detergent, soaps and creams
- Physical stimuli like pressure, cold, heat, exercise or sun exposure
- Pet dander
- Some plants
Stress is also linked to hives. It’s not necessarily a main cause of hives, however, stress can make hives worse. This typically occurs among people who are susceptible to hives, such as women and people with autoimmune disorders.
How to Get Rid of Hives Naturally
1. Avoid Irritants
One of the best things you can do for your skin if you have hives is to avoid irritants including perfumes, fragranced skincare and tight, itchy clothing. Also stay out of the sun. These can all make your skin more irritable and prevent your hives from clearing. Try your best to maintain a comfortable temperature and wear loose, cotton clothing.
2. Apply a Cold Compress
Applying a cool, damp compress to the affected area will feel amazing on your skin. It will provide relief from itchiness and help reduce inflammation. You can use a cold compress as often as necessary throughout the day for relief.
3. Oatmeal Baking Soda Bath
If you’re experiencing itchiness alongside your hives, you can add numerous things to your bath water to get relief. Colloidal oatmeal can moisturize and soothe inflamed skin and provide relief from itchiness. Baking soda can also help reduce irritation. Use them both together in a comfortably cool bath to soothe the skin and prevent scratching.
4. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel contains natural tannins that can help relieve irritation. You can create your own witch hazel mixture to apply on your skin like a mask a few times a day. Add five to 10 grams of witch hazel to one cup of water, mash up the bark and pour the water into a pot. Boil the water, then remove it from heat and strain the mixture. Allow it to cool before you apply it, and let it sit on the skin for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing it off. You can also add witch hazel to a cool bath.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has healing properties that can help soothe and reduce hives. Always do a skin test patch before application to ensure it doesn’t cause contact dermatitis. You can apply topical aloe vera to your hives up to a few times a day, making sure to follow any instructions on the package.
6. Brown Sugar and Ginger
Try this old Chinese folk remedy to get some relief from hives. Ginger is beneficial due to its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Boil one quarter cup of brown sugar and one tablespoon of fresh ginger in ¾ cup of apple cider vinegar. Mix with a little bit of water, soak a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it to your hives a few times a day.
When to See a Doctor
Hives usually settle within a few days. You should contact your doctor if the rash and your symptoms:
- Don’t go away within 48 hours
- Are severe
- Cause distress
- Disrupt your daily activities
- Occur alongside other symptoms
If you notice swelling in your mouth or throat or have difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical care or go to the nearest emergency room. Also call 911 if develop other signs of anaphylaxis such as:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sudden, severe diarrhea
- Shallow, rapid breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
Hives are itchy, irritating and overall no fun. If you experience hives, try these natural remedies for relief.
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