Home Remedies and Lifestyle Tips for Hives

by Kristina Brooks Editor

Hives, also called urticaria — an itchy, uncomforatble, inflammatory skin reaction that often develop suddenly and unexpectedly — can affect any part of the body. These lifestyle tips and home remedies can help you better manage a breakout of hives — and may even reduce your risk of developing urticaria.

Dandelion seeds.
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Uncover and avoid triggers

Hives can be triggered by a number of different factors. In some cases, a small number of hives appear, and in others, a full outbreak develops. It can be difficult to determine what is causing your hives, but finding out what is triggering your reactions is the first -- and one of the best -- ways to find relief.

Woman selecting an over-the-counter antihistamine at a pharmacy.
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Use an OTC antihistamine

In many cases, hives surface on the skin because of an allergic reaction -- a trigger causes the body's immune system to produce a large amount of histamines. Use an OTC antihistamine as directed to relieve itching and swelling. Avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin and ibuprofen for pain, as these may further aggravate hives -- especially in children.

Woman holding a cold pack to her knee.
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Apply a cool, wet compress

At the first signs of a hives outbreak, apply a towel dampened in cold water or an ice pack to the skin to reduce swelling, calm the skin, and help prevent you from scratching. Take a cool shower or a cool bath with uncooked oatmeal or a product like Aveeno, which provides relief for other inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or shingles.

Man putting on loose clothing.
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Wear loose, smooth textured clothes

Tight fitting clothes can put pressure on the skin, irritating existing hives or -- especially in people with heat, sweat, or pressure triggers -- causing patches of hives to form. Loose-fitting clothes can help prevent additional irritation and discomfort. Also avoid clothing made from scratchy-textured material such as wool.

Baking soda.
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Try remedies with home ingredients

Some ingredients found around your home may be used to soothe hives and calm your skin. Dilute a tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of water and apply with a cotton ball. Use milk of magnesia or Pepto-Bismol as an alternative to calamine lotion, or apply a paste made of baking soda or cream of tartar and water. Other remedies include fish oil or nettle supplements and drinking chamomile tea.

Kristina Brooks
Meet Our Writer
Kristina Brooks

Kristina Brooks was a digital editor at HealthCentral with a background in animal biology, ecology, and health science. While studying broadcast journalism, she discovered the great need for health reporters that could translate research to the public. In her work, she hopes to use research to help consumers make smart decisions about their healthcare, and empower patients to stay confident and in charge of their chronic conditions. She helped launch HealthCentral's inaugural MythWeek.