Hives are often mysterious things, appearing suddenly and disappearing just as suddenly hours or days later. For most sufferers, hives are harmless but irritating. They come and go on their own, but there are some medications and home remedies that can help you stay comfortable while waiting for them to pass.
In some people, hives develop as allergic reactions to foods, pet dander, medications, chemicals or insect bites. Other people break out in hives because of emotional stress, changes in temperature or physical stress, such as that caused by illness or exercise. The best way to stop itching from hives is to prevent the hives from developing in the first place, so if you are prone to skin irritations, pay close attention to what causes them. Avoid your triggers as much as possible, whether they are physical or emotional.
If you develop hives, antihistamines can help manage the itching. Over-the-counter products are sufficient for some people, while others need stronger antihistamines or corticosteroids that require a prescription. To reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate hives, take an over-the-counter medication, follow the dosage instructions and note whether the product causes drowsiness or other side effects. Topical anti-itch creams can also relieve symptoms. If your hives are severe or chronic, talk to your doctor about prescription options.
Simple lifestyle remedies that reduce stress, manage temperature and soothe your skin can help stop your hives from itching. Applying cool, wet compresses to your skin can reduce your symptoms, or try taking a bath in lukewarm water containing raw oatmeal. Wear loose, cotton clothing to prevent further irritation to your skin. Try not to scratch, and do relaxing activities that calm you or relieve your stress.
If you experience symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, paleness or swelling of your tongue or lips, see a doctor immediately. However, if you don't have any of these symptoms, you probably don't need medical attention. Wheezing, choking and fainting are also signs of a severe reaction called "anaphylaxis." If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may instruct you to carry an injectable dose of adrenaline for emergency use.