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How to Know if You Have Hives and How to Treat Them



You will know if you have hives when you press the center of a raised bump and it turns white!

Hives are red, raised, and very itchy bumps that can form anywhere on the skin, including the scalp. Hives tend to come and go within a few hours but they may well come back again - and if they do come and go on for longer than 6 weeks, they’re called chronic (long-lasting) hives. 

Hives (also known as urticaria) is a common skin condition that can affect up to twenty per cent of the population at some stage in their life.

Hives are usually caused by an allergic reaction to a substance that you have encountered or swallowed. In response to this allergic reaction, your body releases a protein called histamine.  if the levels are high enough, itching, swelling, redness and many other symptoms will appear.

There are a few clues to follow if you suspect you have hives

  • Their appearance can be raised, red patches although the redness may be harder to see on darker skin.
  • A hives rash can also have raised spots.
  • Hives can be different sizes and shapes, appearing anywhere on the body.
  • Both adults and children can break out with hives.
  • A hives rash is often itchy and may sometimes feel like it is stinging or burning.
  • If you have a hives rash, you may find it settles down quite quickly - anything from within a few minutes to a few days.


How to treat hives?

Antihistamine tablets can be helpful in treating a hives rash except in the case of young children.

Get medical advice if:

  • You find the symptoms do not improve after several days.
  • In the case of hives in young children.
  • You find the rash is spreading.
  • The hives keeps coming back as it could be that an allergy is involved.
  • You are running a high temperature and feel generally unwell.
  • You notice swelling under the skin as this could be a sign of angioedema.

Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose hives easily and he or she may ask about any recent life stressors or exposure to possible or known allergens.

In the case of severe hives, your doctor may suggest a course of oral steroids which can cause many side effects.  Chronic cases of hives could well be referred to a dermatologist or allergy specialist for further investigation. 

Triggers for outbreaks of hives

There are also various triggers for this skin condition including certain foods such as nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, fresh berries and milk.  Other triggers include latex, chemicals, pollen, food additives, animal dander, infections, medications as well as insect bites or stings. 

In addition, hives can occur when you get too hot while spending time during warmer weather, if you are exposed to ice cold water or as a result of stress.  Another trigger can be the Inflammation of the blood vessels.

There are several natural remedies to treat hives

1.  Ensure that you or your children don't take hot baths or showers during an outbreak while also avoiding tight-fitting clothing because this can further irritate hives. 

2.  Avoid anything you suspect may be causing allergies and if necessary, undergo allergy testing.  Suspects include food and pets.  Keeping a food diary can be helpful.

3.  Calm any inflammation by ensuring you are not using any products that could make the inflammation and itching worse.  These products includes soaps and other body care products as well as detergents.  Take cool baths or showers or add a cool compress to the areas affected by hives.

4.  Oatmeal bathing.  Add a cup or two of uncooked oats into a stocking or cheesecloth. Tie up with a rubber band so the oats can’t leak out and place under running bath water as the bath fills up, infusing with oatmeal’s skin-calming properties. Oats are known for their ability to calm skin inflammation, remembering the water should be just warm. 

5.  Reducing the stress.  Hives and stress go hand-in-hand so any excessive short or long term stress can take its toll on the body’s immune system making it important to reduce such stress. Exercise is one of the best stress boosters as well as yoga and massage. 

6.  Making a paste of baking soda and water can help to calm hives and even prevent the appearance of new ones.  Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with some cold water to create a paste and then rub it on the affected area.  Leave to dry before washing it off.  Repeat several times a day and you will find immediate relief.

7.  Help can come with dabbing witch hazel on to affected skin to calm inflammation and itching.   

8.  Supplementing with quercetin and evening primrose can help to calm and get rid of hives.  Quercetin is a natural antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory.  (Other supplement recommendations include vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D and fish oil). 

9.  Acupuncture is another natural remedy for treating hives especially in the case of chronic hives. Trained practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin with the aim of providing immediate relief from the swelling and itching.   In addition, acupuncture is also used to get to the root of the cause of hives including whether there are any underlying imbalances or triggers.