There are no instant cures for hives. People generally try various medications until they find a combination that works for them. According to the National Library of Medicine, there are a few things that you can do to reduce discomfort while waiting for your hives to effectively treat:
- An over-the-counter antihistamine will help to relieve itching. Your doctor may also prescribe an antihistamine or give you a shot.
- Dab calamine lotion on the rash. This will help your skin feel cooler, less irritated, and reduce the itch.
- Place a cool compress over your skin to soothe pain, itchiness and swelling. Try taking a cool oatmeal bath, especially if the hives cover a large portion of your body. Don’t take a hot bath or shower – the hot water may only irritate the skin further.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
The most common prescription antihistamines used to treat Acute Hives are Allegra and Claritin, and both medications carry possible side effects. Allegra may cause nausea, vomiting, weakness and sleepiness, while Claritin may trigger an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, swelling of the lips/tongue/face, or hives), an irregular heartbeat, and seizures. It is interesting to note the irony in the fact that Claritin, which is prescribed to treat Hives, lists Hives as a possible side effect.
As disconcerting as that fact may be, even worse are the side effects associated with the most popular oral corticosteroid, Prednisone. Below is the list of symptoms that you should tell your doctor about it they are severe or do not subside:
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- inappropriate happiness
- extreme changes in mood
- changes in personality
- bulging eyes
- thin, fragile skin
- red or purple blotches or lines under the skin
- slowed healing of cuts and bruises
- increased hair growth
- changes in the way fat is spread around the body
- extreme tiredness
- weak muscles
- irregular or absent menstrual periods
- decreased sexual desire
- increased sweating
In addition to the above side effects, you should call your doctor immediately if, while taking Prednisone, you experience:
- vision problems
- eye pain, redness, or tearing
- sore throat, fever, chills, cough, or other signs of infection
- loss of contact with reality
- muscle twitching or tightening
- shaking of the hands that you cannot control
- numbness, burning, or tingling in the face, arms, legs, feet, or hands
- upset stomach
- irregular heartbeat
- sudden weight gain
- shortness of breath, especially during the night
- dry, hacking cough
- swelling or pain in the stomach
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
Prednisone may also slow growth and development in children, increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, or contribute to your risk of developing a type of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Hives are often misdiagnosed because they can be caused by an underlying condition or medications. The underlying conditions that may cause hives include food or drug allergies, stress, heat/cold sensitivity, and sweating. As for medications in particular, the most common culprits are aspirin and antibiotics. Side effects of medications, exposure to toxins, chemicals, or other substances may also provoke development of hives. Consequently, they become possible underlying causes of hives but are often misdiagnosed or overlooked as a cause.
For a comprehensive list of medications that can cause hives, click here (http://cureresearch.com/intro/medic.htm)
The best way to prevent hives is to identify the cause and avoid it, but this is easier said than done since most causes remain unknown. One reason that it is difficult to pinpoint an exact source is because hives are commonly triggered by a combination of factors. One preventive measure that you can take is to keep an antihistamine on-hand and take it the first signs of hives or itching. However, please note that older adults and people with heart disease should check with their doctor before taking any antihistamines.
A few things you can generally avoid to prevent a hives outbreak are:
- Extreme temperature changes (hot showers,cooling down after a workout)
- Medications like aspirin and other over-the-counter pain medications (Acetaminophen – Tylenol or generic – is usually fine.)
- Poor sleep
- Drastic changes in diet (rich restaurant meals, very spicy foods)
There is no magic cure for Hives but there are quite a few recommended home remedies available in a pinch:
- Take an antihistamine – this is one way to relieve the itch and rash temporarily. Be aware, though, that most antihistamines will make you drowsy.
- Apply calamine lotion directly to the affected area.
- Cool down by taking a cold bath or applying a cool compress to the rash. Hot water will only increase the itching.
- Apply hydrocortisone, like Cortaid to the rash.
- Apply Milk of Magnesia – the alkaline will help to relieve the itch.
- Drink tea (although some may find that certain teas actually cause them to develop Hives).
- RELAX – Hives are sometimes thought to be worsened or even caused by stress and anxiety. Try doing some breathing exercises or yoga.
A link determined by researchers between Chronic Hives and bacteria and thyroid disease has prompted the use of antibiotics and thyroid drugs such as Levothyroxine as treatment, producing positive results.
“Chronic Hives, Rashes Associated with Bacteria, Autoimmunity: Antibiotics or Thyroid Drugs May Be an Effective Treatment for Urticaria”
“Researchers discovered that the antibiotics given to the ulcer patients to rid them of the H. Pylori also cleared up the chronic urticaria (recurring hives)….The researchers concluded that thyroid autoimmunity may be associated with chronic urticaria in some patients who are euthyroid, and that treatment with thyroid hormone can result in remission of their urticaria….The lower thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level with treatment did have a direct relationship to the reduction of symptoms, however, leading the researchers to speculate that an inflamed thyroid gland may be releasing something that causes the urticaria.” To read more of this article, click here.
It is especially saddening to see a child who suffers from hives, especially a chronic case, due to the discomfort, disability, and emotional distress that they must endure as result of this disease. Not only does the child have to bear the physical discomfort of the hives but they may also suffer from various side effects of therapy. The extensive testing performed in search of a cause for the child’s hives, the poking and prodding, and the time spent in the doctor’s office only add to the misery.
Fortunately, for all you parents out there who fear that something is terribly wrong with your child, studies show that half of the chronic hives cases diagnosed in children clear up completely within a year’s time.
Hives have a few key features that may distinguish them from a number of other reactions. The most common identifying characteristics of Hives are:
- A well-defined area of swelling, round or flat in formation,
but always raised above the surrounding skin
- Varying in size from 1-inch to many inches in diameter
Hives tend to come and go in crops and commonly last for about 24 hours. You may monitor your Hives by circling a spot and then look at it a day later to take note of any changes in size or shape. An occurrence of Hives may clear in a day but can last for much longer. Although broken or scabbing skin is not a direct symptom of Hives, it can result from scratching the affected area. Heat can also cause your Hives to worsen and spread. In extreme cases, your airways can swell, causing wheezing and respiratory distress, or even hindering your ability to breathe at all.
The causes of Hives vary widely, making the condition difficult to prevent and sometimes treat. Most often, the cause is unknown, although it is easier to pinpoint the source of Acute Hives than Chronic Hives. A few of the most commonly known causes of Hives are:
- Pollen or dust
- Extreme shifts in body temperature
- Synthetic products, such as perfume,
- Laundry detergent, or deodorant
- Fungal, bacterial, or viral infections
- Thyroid disorders
- Sun exposure
- Insect bites (especially mosquitoes, fleas,
- Bee, wasp, hornet stings, and scabies)
- Certain foods, such as nuts (especially peanuts, walnuts, and Brazil nuts), eggs, fruits (especially citrus, strawberries), chocolates, wheat, fish & shellfish, tomatoes, milk & cheese, spices, yeasts, food additives and preservatives
It is believed that every 1 in 6 people will experience a Hives outbreak at some point in their life. If you have previously had Hives, have allergies or a family history of Hives, you are at higher risk of developing them. In addition, although the reason is unknown, girls tend to be more susceptible to developing Hives than boys.