Hives—sometimes known as “urticaria”—consists in an itchy rash that is raised in appearance and can appear anywhere on the skin. It is caused by the production of high levels of histamine, often in response to an allergen, an infection or a drug. Most cases resolves within just a few days (though some take closer to two months to resolve). If you develop hives, it’s important to allow a doctor to look at your rash and to figure out what might have triggered it. However, once you have been told you definitely have hives, you may find some of the following ten home remedies bring some relief.
1. Apply calamine lotion
Calamine lotion can be dabbed onto the hives, in order to shrink blood vessels and reduce the amount of histamine that reaches the area. If you prefer, you can also try using milk of magnesia (which is traditionally suggested as a treatment for digestive difficulties). Its alkaline nature makes it very soothing, taking the itch and sting out of your hives.
2. Take fish oil supplements
There are plenty of reasons to take around 1,000 milligrams of fish oil several times a day, as this loads you up with fatty acids that lower inflammation all throughout the body (potentially helping with everything from arthritis to chronic bowel problems). Attacks of hives may also respond to increasing your consumption of oily fish (e.g. salmon and tuna).
3. Use a cold compress
A cold compress can relieve a lot of the itching in a case of hives, and also soothe the rash. You can soak any soft, clean piece of cloth in cold water, squeeze it, and hold it against the irritated area for 10-15 minutes. At this point, you’ll need to soak the material again, as it will have warmed up. However, note that a minority of people find that very cold temperatures worsen hives.
4. Drink nettle tea
Nettles are often suggested as a natural alternative to antihistamine drugs, so it stands to reason that nettle tea can help reduce the itchiness and swelling of hives. You only need a single teaspoon of dried nettles to make tea in a mug of hot water. Let it steep for a few minutes before straining the nettles, and drink as often as you like. You can also wait until the tea cools and then apply it directly to your rash.
5. Relax in an oatmeal bath
Oatmeal is famously soothing, so you can use it to make a relaxing bath that calms hives. Just blend a cup of rolled oats into a powder, and pour it into a bath (which will turn the water creamy and thick). You can soak for as long as you like, but ensure the temperature of the bath is warm—hot or cold water can make you even itchier. Some people also suggest adding a cup or two of milk to the bath.
6. Dress more comfortably
Some people are prone to developing hives underneath tight clothing, so think about what you’re wearing when hives appear. Could you benefit from a better-fitting bra, or pants with a looser waist? Hats can also cause hives to crop up in parts of the scalp or forehead that get hot.
7. Dab a vinegar mixture onto your hives
Vinegar might not be your first thought when you try to come up with soothing ingredients from your kitchen, but it’s actually great at healing. Just mix 1tsp of vinegar with another teaspoon of water, then dab the liquid onto the area where you have developed hives. You should notice a reduction in itchiness, and this treatment may also speed up the healing process.
8. Create a pineapple compress
Another surprising home remedy comes in the form of a pineapple compress. Pineapples are a source of a potent enzyme called bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties. All you need to do is crush pineapple, and wrap it in a thin piece of clean material. This compress can then be held against the irritated area. You can use this treatment as needed, but be sure to replace the pineapple with a freshly crushed portion every day or so.
9. Increase your vitamin C intake
Studies show that those who take high doses of vitamin C typically have lower histamine levels, making them potentially less susceptible to repeated bouts of hives. You can either take supplements or choose to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables like oranges and bell peppers. Either way, be careful that you don’t overdo it—excessive consumption of vitamin C promotes digestive upset and the formation of kidney stones.
10. Try a Chinese remedy
Finally, you can make a traditional Chinese folk remedy for hives with three key ingredients—sugar, vinegar and ginger. A cup of vinegar should be mixed with half a cup of brown sugar, and then you can add in 1tbsp of ginger and a little water as the finishing touch. Dab this onto your hives a few times a day, and you should soon feel some relief.