Natural Treatments for Hives

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How to Treat Hives Naturally

Five Methods:

Hives, also known as urticaria, are a type of skin rash that are the result of an allergic reaction to a substance, called an allergen, in the environment. Although the cause of hives is not always known, they are often a response to the body releasing histamines, which it does when you have an allergic reaction to food, medicine, or other allergens. Histamine is also sometimes the body's response to infections, stress, sunlight, and changes in temperature. Hives typically manifest as small, swollen, itchy, red areas on the skin that may occur singularly or in clusters. Left untreated, hives usually fade within a few hours, but new ones may appear in their place.If you want to try to cure your hives at home, there are many different natural remedies to treat your hives.


Avoiding the Allergens

  1. Understand what causes the hives.Anyone can get hives. About 20% of the population have experienced them at some point in their lives.During an allergic reaction, certain skin cells, such as the mast cells that contain histamine and other chemical messengers like cytokines, are stimulated to release the histamine and other cytokines. These increase the amount of leakage from the tiny blood vessels in the skin and cause the swelling and itching that is so characteristic of hives.
  2. Get away from the allergens.The first step in treating hives is to ensure you are away from the source of the allergic response. If you know what it is, which is how most cases of hives are, remove the substance that is causing the allergic reaction from your skin or environment. Common allergens that are easy to determine are poison ivy, poison oak, insect bites, wool clothing, a cat, or a dog. Avoid these or any other known allergen as much as possible.
    • In some cases of chronic hives, you may have to do some detective work to determine what your specific hive trigger is.
    • Other common causes are food, medication, chemicals such as acetone, a polymer such as latex, an viral, fungal, or bacterial infection, pet hair or dander, plants, and physical stimuli such as pressure, temperature, and sun exposure.
  3. Protect yourself from pollen.There are some cases where environmental agents can cause hives. If you react to pollen, avoid being outside in the morning and in the evening when pollen levels are at their highest. Keep your windows closed during these times as well and avoid drying clothes outside. Change into “indoor clothes” as soon as possible and wash your “outdoor clothes” right away.
    • Using a humidifier in the home can be helpful as well.
    • You may also need to avoid other common air irritants such as insect sprays, tobacco smoke, wood smoke, and fresh tar or paint as much as possible.

Using Topical Remedies

  1. Use a cold compress.Since skin irritation is the main symptom of hives, you should treat the skin to help alleviate the hives. Take a clean, cotton towel and soak it in cool water. Squeeze out the extra water and place over the affected areas. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then re-soak the towel to keep the water cool, which will in turn keep your skin cool.
    • You can use a cool compress as long as you need to soothe away the hives.
    • Avoid using very cold water because, in some people, this can make the hives worse.
  2. Make a homemade oatmeal bath.Oatmeal is one of the best natural ways to treat the itchy, irritated skin associated with hives. Get a cup of plain, all natural rolled oats and place them in a food processor or coffee grinder. Pulse until there the oatmeal becomes a thick powder. Once it is ground into the fine substance, place one to two cups of rolled oats in a warm or cool bath, which will make the water a white colored, thick consistency. Get into the bath and soak for as long as you want. Repeat as often as needed.
    • Do not use hot water or cold water, since it often causes the hives to become irritated.
    • You can add up to four cups of milk for added relief from the irritation.
  3. Make a pineapple compress.Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples and can help reduce the swelling of hives. Crush some pineapple, either canned or fresh, and place it on a thin cotton towel. Pull the four corners of the towel together and tie them off with a rubber band. Place the damp, pineapple filled towel over the hives.
    • When not using the pineapple compress, store in a closed container in the refrigerator. Use as often as needed but replace the pineapple every 24 hours.
    • You can also place pieces of pineapple directly on your hives.
    • Bromelain also comes in a supplement, which you can also take to help with the hives.
  4. Mix a baking soda paste.Baking soda can be used to help relieve the itching of your hives. Mix 1 tbsp of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Try a few drops at first and stir, adding more as needed. Using your fingers or soft spatula, spread the paste over the hives. Use as often as needed and rinse off with cool water.
    • You can also use cream of tartar if you have it. Make a paste in the same manner and apply as needed.
  5. Try vinegar.There are many healing nutrients in vinegar. Pick any kind of vinegar. Pour 1 tsp of vinegar into 1 tbsp of water and stir. Using a cotton ball or napkin, apply the mixture to your hives. This will help soothe the itching.
  6. Use nettles.Nettles have been traditionally used to treat hives because it is natural antihistamine. You can make nettles into tea, eat it, or take it as a supplement. To make a cup of nettles tea, take 1 tsp of the dried herb and add it to a cup of hot water. Let it steep and allow it to cool. Soak a cotton towel with the nettles tea, wring out the excess tea, and place the damp towel over the hives. Use as often as needed.
    • For the nettles supplement, take up to six 400 mg tablets per day. To eat it, steam the plant and then eat it.
    • Store unused nettles tea in the refrigerator in a closed container. Make new tea every 24 hours.
  7. Apply calamine lotion.Calamine lotion is a mixture of zinc oxide and zinc carbonate. It can be applied to hives to relieve the itching as often as needed. When the itching subsides or you want to reapply, rinse off the calamine lotion with cool water.
    • You can also use milk of magnesia or Pepto-Bismol on the hives as well. These are both alkaline, which will help relieve the itching.

Using Supplements

  1. Use rutin supplements.A number of herbs and supplements have natural anti-inflammatory activity. Rutin is a natural bioflavonoid found in citrus fruits and buckwheat. It can function to reduce inflammation and swelling by limiting the leakage from blood vessels.
    • Suggested dosage for rutin is 250 mg every 12 hours.
  2. Take quercetin.Quercetin can also be effective in reducing inflammation and swelling. It is a flavonoid produced in the body from rutin.Eat more fruits and vegetables, such as apples, citrus fruits, onions, sage, parsley, dark cherries, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries, to get more quercetin in your diet. You can also drink more tea and red wine or use more olive oil to increase your intake of it. You can take quercetin as a dietary supplement as well.
    • Quercetin is more effective than the prescription drug cromolyn in blocking histamine release, which will also help with your hives.
    • If you take the supplement, ask your doctor which dosage is right for your particular case of hives. It varies on a case by case basis.
  3. Try coleus forskohlii.Coleus forskohlii is a plant native to Southeast Asia that is used in Ayurvedic medicine. Studies have shown that it reduces the histamine and leukotriene release from mast cells when you get hives.
    • It is generally suggested that you take between 100 to 250 mg of coleus forskohii a day, but there are not strict guidelines. Ask you doctor which dosage is right for you.

Reducing Stress

  1. Relax.While it is not known exactly how stress and hives are related, stress does seem to put a person at higher risk for having hives. Reduce your stress levels by trying to relax. Take time out of you schedule everyday to take part in relaxing activities, such as a leisurely walk, reading a book, gardening, or watching a movie.
    • Relaxing activities can be very subjective. Find whatever makes you happy and relaxed and do it every day.
  2. Try deep breathing techniques.Deep breathing techniques have been shown to help reduce stress. Start by lying flat on your back. Use pillows under your knees and neck to make sure you are comfortable. Put your hands, palm down, on your stomach right below the rib cage. Place the fingers of your hands together so you can feel them separate and know you are doing the exercise correctly. Take a long, slow deep breath by expanding your belly, breathing like a baby breathes, meaning from the diaphragm. Your fingers should separate as they lie on your belly.
    • Make sure you are using your diaphragm to breathe rather than your rib cage. The diaphragm creates suction that pulls more air into your lungs than can be achieved by expanding the rib cage.
  3. Practice positive affirmations.Positive affirmations are phrases you say to yourself to help reduce your stress and bring up your mood. When saying these, use the present tense and repeat as often as you can. Examples of positive affirmations are:
    • Yes, I can do this.
    • I am successful.
    • I am getting healthy.
    • I feel better every day.
    • Some people write down their positive affirmations on sticky notes and post these notes everywhere they can to help them relax every day.

Understanding Hives

  1. Recognize the symptoms.The symptoms and appearance of hives can be very short-lived, lasting only minutes, to very long term. The symptoms and appearance of hives can last for months and years. Hives can also appear on any area of the body, though the most common are the raised, itchy bumps that appear in the same area that was exposed to the allergen.
    • They are usually round, though hives can appear to “merge” into what looks like a large, irregularly shaped welt.
  2. Diagnose hives.The diagnosis of hives is generally straightforward and requires only a visual examination. If you were unable to find the allergen causing your hives on your own, your doctor can run tests when you are diagnosed to determine what causes your hives. He or she does this by performing an allergy test that test for skin reactions to a variety of substances.
    • If this method does not work, you may also need blood tests and a skin biopsy to examine the skin under a microscope.
  3. Take medicine for hives.For a case of hives that is mild to moderate, antihistamines are often used. These may be over the counter medications or prescription antihistamines. These include:
    • Sedating antihistamines like Brompheniramine (Dimetane), Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
    • Non-sedating antihistamines like Cetirizine (Zyrtec, Zyrtec-D), Clemastine (Tavist), Fexofenadine (Allegra, Allegra D) and Loratadine (Claritin, Claritin D, Alavert).
    • Over the counter corticosteroids in nasal sprays (Nasacort) and prescription corticosteroids including Prednisone, Prednisolone, Cortisol, and Methylprednisolone.
    • Mast-cell stabilizers such as Cromolyn sodium (Nasalcrom).
    • Leukotriene inhibitors like Montelukast (Singulair).
    • Topical immune-modulating substances (Protopic) and Pimecrolimus (Elidel).
  4. Get medical help.In rare cases, hives can cause swelling in the throat and can cause an emergency situation that requires epinephrine. Epinephrine can also be used as an EpiPen in those who are severely allergic to a particular substance and require epinephrine to avoid anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction that may occur with or without the appearance of hives. The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include:
    • Skin rashes which may include hives, itching, and flushed or pale skin.
    • A sense of warmth.
    • The sensation or feeling a lump in the throat.
    • Wheezing or other difficulty in breathing.
    • A swollen tongue or throat.
    • A rapid pulse and heartbeat.
    • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
    • Dizziness or fainting.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Can I substitute Flonase for Nasacort?

    Naturopathic Doctor
    Dr. Degrandpre is a licensed naturopathic physician in Washington. She received her N.D. from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2007.
    Naturopathic Doctor
    Expert Answer
    Both Flonase and Nasacort are available without a prescription. These medications contain different steroids but both are meant to treat sinus congestion due to allergies.  Neither should be used in children without talking to your doctor first.  You can substitute Flonase for Nasocort, but you should use it regularly but shouldn't use more than 1 spray in each nostril twice a day.  If you have diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts or liver disease, ask your doctor before using.
  • Question
    I've had an itchy, red, bumpy rash all over my body for the last 16 months. I have been to specialists but they haven't helped. What can I do?

    Naturopathic Doctor
    Dr. Degrandpre is a licensed naturopathic physician in Washington. She received her N.D. from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2007.
    Naturopathic Doctor
    Expert Answer
    You may have a sensitivity to detergent, soap, clothing, perfumes and/or foods. Have you changed any daily habit in the last 16 months? New detergent or soap? Try using only natural detergents and soaps for a while to see if it helps. Wear only cotton or linen clothing. Keep a diet diary, writing down all the foods you eat — see if the itching gets worse after you eat certain foods.
  • Question
    How long can I safely take 10 mg. Loratadine to treat urticaria?

    Naturopathic Doctor
    Dr. Degrandpre is a licensed naturopathic physician in Washington. She received her N.D. from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2007.
    Naturopathic Doctor
    Expert Answer
    Loratadine is commonly used to treat both acute (sudden) and chronic (long-term) urticaria (hives). It is considered safe to use long-term, but talk to your doctor to make sure you should continue after about six months.
  • Question
    Is fluticasone a good treatment for hives?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, it helps the hives weaken and disappear.
  • Question
    I have been getting hives every three or four days. Why is this?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You probably live around your allergens, such as trees, pollen, dust mites, dust, or anything you're allergic to.
  • Question
    What can I do if I have a lot of red swelling marks that itch on my skin?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Stress hives tend to be around your neck, lower back, feet, hands. etc. The tips above should help.
  • Question
    Can I get hives on my head?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you can. They tend to stay around haired areas, like the scalp and eyebrows, but they can travel to the areas surrounding your eyes and mouth. In general, hives can occur anywhere on the skin.
  • Question
    How do I treat chronic physical hives?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Sarna lotion with menthol and camphor will settle down the itch. Wipe the skin with a damp cloth and dry it before applying. Switch to Cetaphil Cleansing Bar from your current soap for the shower. If your skin tends to be dry, apply Cetaphil moisturizing cream after your shower. Keep the Sarna in your car so you will always have it near. If all else fails, use an ice pack for about 20 minutes. Talk to a doctor to see if you have any food allergies, if you haven't already.
  • Question
    How long do hives last?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Hives tend to last a few hours to a couple of days. They may become serious if they stay around longer than that time period.
  • Question
    Can a sting cause itchy skin accompanied with hives?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, this can result from a sting.
Unanswered Questions
  • I have been suffering from chronic urticaria for the past 10 years. What tablets, capsules, and natural remedies might help me?
  • 3 weeks ago I had a tick bite and came in contact with poison ivy. The ivy rash was on my thigh, is better, 3 days ago I started breaking out in hives on my torso, it is worse today, what to do?
  • How do I clear hives caused by morphine?
  • What can I do if my hives are caused by my own sweat? I have had them for two weeks, I already take Claritin-D for my nasal congestion, have been taking cool showers and using OTC ointments.
  • I have urticaria. What can I do to stop it or at least relax it?
Ask a Question
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  • As a precaution, apply topical remedies first to a small area to make sure you don’t have any reaction to it. If after five to 10 minutes there is no reaction, apply to the hives as needed.
  • Do not use these remedies for children under the age of five unless under the care of a physician.
  • If hives become a chronic or long-term problem, you should ask your physician for a referral to a specialist. An allergist can test you in order to determine, if possible, the cause of your allergic reaction. These allergy tests will cover foods, plants, chemicals, insects, and insect bites.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. Rehn D, Nocker W, Diebschlag W, et al. Time course of the anti-oedematous effect of different dose regimens of O-(beta-hydroxyethyl) rutosides in healthy volunteers. Arzneimittelforschung 1993;43(3):335-338
  2. Boyle, S. P., Dobson, V. L., Duthie, S. J., Hinselwood, D. C., Kyle, J. A., and Collins, A. R. Bioavailability and efficiency of rutin as an antioxidant: a human supplementation study. Eur.J Clin.Nutr. 2000;54(10):774-782
  3. Rehn D, Nocker W, Diebschlag W, et al. Time course of the anti-oedematous effect of different dose regimens of O-(beta-hydroxyethyl) rutosides in healthy volunteers. Arzneimittelforschung 1993;43(3):335-338
  4. Boyle, S. P., Dobson, V. L., Duthie, S. J., Hinselwood, D. C., Kyle, J. A., and Collins, A. R. Bioavailability and efficiency of rutin as an antioxidant: a human supplementation study. Eur.J Clin.Nutr. 2000;54(10):774-782
  5. Weng Z, Zhang B, Asadi S, Sismanopoulos N, Butcher A, Fu X, et al. (2012) Quercetin Is More Effective than Cromolyn in Blocking Human Mast Cell Cytokine Release and Inhibits Contact Dermatitis and Photosensitivity in Humans. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33805

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