Hives, also known as urticaria, are defined as a sudden outbreak of swollen, pale-red bumps or plaques (welts) on the skin.
Hives are usually caused by an allergic reaction to a substance that you encountered or swallowed. Due to the allergic reaction, your body releases a protein called histamine, which in turn results in itching, swelling, redness and many other symptoms.
Some of the common triggers of hives are certain foods (nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, fresh berries and milk), latex, chemicals, pollen, food additives, animal dander, infections, medications, and insect bites or stings.
Also, hives can occur when you get too hot while spending time outside on a summer day, are exposed to ice cold water, or as a result of stress. Moreover, many cases of hives are idiopathic, meaning that there is no known cause for the condition.
Hives rashes usually have clearly defined edges, appear in varying shapes and sizes, and can be very itchy. They may appear within minutes of exposure to a trigger, or you can have a delayed reaction of more than two hours.
While hives can be uncomfortable, they are usually harmless and will disappear within a few hours or days. However, you can always explore your kitchen and garden for some simple natural remedies to get relief from the symptoms.
Most skin allergy specialists suggest cold compresses as the best topical natural remedy for hives. Cold temperature helps shrink the blood vessels and block further release of histamine. This in turn alleviates swelling, inflammation and itching.
- Wrap some ice cubes in a cloth. Place it over the affected skin for 10 minutes at a time, three or four times a day.
- You can also take a cool bath or shower as needed to calm skin inflamed by hives.
Note: Never put ice directly on the skin.
Baking soda is another popular remedy for hives. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation as well as itching.
- Add one-half to one cup of baking soda to a bathtub filled with warm water. Mix it in well and then soak in this water for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Alternatively, put two tablespoons of baking soda in a small bowl. Add enough water to make a thick paste. Spread the paste on the affected area. Leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.
You can use either of these remedies once daily or as needed.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another good remedy for hives. Its antihistamine properties will help relieve inflammation quickly and regulate the body’s immune system response. It also plays a key role in restoring your overall skin health.
- Add two cups of apple cider vinegar to a bathtub filled with warm water. Soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes once daily.
- Alternatively, dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water and use it to wash the affected skin two or three times a day.
- You can also mix one to two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. Add a little lemon juice and honey to improve the taste. Drink this three times daily.
Follow any of these remedies daily until your condition improves.
Oatmeal works very well for hives. Its anti-irritating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties help provide relief from itching and help your skin heal quickly.
- Combine one cup of baking soda and two cups of ground oatmeal. Add this mixture to a bathtub filled with warm water. Stir it well and soak in this water for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy this soothing bath twice daily until your condition improves.
- Alternatively, mix together two cups of oatmeal, two tablespoons of cornstarch and enough water to form a paste. Apply the paste on the affected skin for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash it off with lukewarm water. Follow this remedy once daily.
Known as a ‘wonder drug’, ginger can be used to treat hives due to its strong anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Basically, ginger targets the genes and enzymes that trigger inflammation, in turn improving circulation to the skin, relieving swelling and reducing itching.
- Boil one-quarter cup of brown sugar and one tablespoon of fresh ginger in three-quarters cup of vinegar for several minutes. Mix a little of this solution with warm water and dab on the affected skin several times a day.
- Alternatively, peel the skin off a small piece of fresh ginger root and gently dab the ginger onto the inflamed skin. Do this two or three times daily. You can chill the ginger root in the refrigerator first for an added cooling effect.
- You can also drink ginger tea or chew on fresh ginger pieces a few times daily.
Follow any of these remedies daily until your skin heals completely.
Aloe vera gel is another natural remedy for hives. It contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that help reduce redness, inflammation and itching when applied topically. Also, when taken internally, it stimulates immunity and helps eliminate inflammatory toxins.
- Apply fresh aloe vera gel to the affected skin. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Follow this remedy several times a day until your skin heals completely.
- You can also drink two tablespoons of aloe vera juice daily to boost your immune system. This remedy should be avoided by children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and helps stimulate the body’s natural anti-inflammatory corticosteroids. It is also considered a very effective natural antihistamine and antioxidant for hives and a variety of inflammatory skin ailments.
- Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of hot milk or water. Drink it twice daily.
- You can also use turmeric in your cooking and take turmeric supplements but only after consulting a doctor.
Note: Do not take turmeric if you are taking prescription blood thinners.
Herbalists also recommend nettle as an effective alternative treatment for hives. Being a natural antihistamine and having anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, it relieves swelling, inflammation and itching.
- Add one tablespoon of dried nettle leaf to a cup of hot water. Cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and add a little honey. Drink this tea two or three times a day until your condition improves.
- Alternatively, you can take up to five 300-milligram capsules of nettle daily. Consult a doctor before taking nettle capsules.
Basil also works as a natural antihistamine and hence it is very effective for treating hives. Plus, it can effectively combat itching and inflammation.
- Put one tablespoon of dried basil leaves in a jar and add hot water to it. Cover the jar and allow it to cool. Apply this mixture on the affected area using a cotton cloth.
- Crush some fresh basil leaves with your hand. Gently apply them on the hives. Allow them to dry and then rinse off your skin with lukewarm water.
Follow either of these remedies as many times as needed for relief.
Due to its cooling effect, mint is also a popular remedy for hives. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help reduce the itching and burning sensations very quickly.
- Steep two teaspoons of freshly crushed mint leaves in one cup of boiling water for five minutes. Strain and put the liquid in the refrigerator. Use this cool mint water to wash the inflamed and irritated skin several times a day.
- Boil one teaspoon of crushed mint leaves and two teaspoons of sugar in one cup of water for five minutes. Strain and allow it to cool. Drink this once or twice daily, depending on the severity of your condition.
- Start keeping a daily diary to figure out what triggers your hives. This will help you avoid the triggers.
- Wear loose, smooth-textured cotton clothing to avoid further skin irritation.
- Reduce stress as it can make your condition worse.
- Increase the amount of vitamin C in your diet.
- Avoid hot baths and showers during an outbreak.
- Stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
These remedies and tips will help reduce the intensity of hives. However, if your symptoms remain for more than one week or you have complications like difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.