Hives occur when histamine, an irritant, is released, usually in response to an allergic reaction. This itchy rash begins as small red bumps which become increasingly itchy and swell up, forming large masses of red, itchy skin. Topical treatment, like medicated lotion, is best for small cases of hives, but hives can be deadly. Learning when to seek medical attention for hives can prevent long-term consequences.
Over the Counter Lotion for Hives
Calamine lotion offers cooling relief from the pain of itching, and contains antihistamines to keep the hives from spreading. One of the first over-the-counter products for treating hives, Calamine lotion leaves a powdery pink residue behind, so you can see when it needs to be re-applied.
In recent years, Benadryl has made a topical allergy relief cream available. Benadryl cream soaks into the skin and leaves no residue behind. It has pain relief ingredients as well as anti-histamines and anti allergens.
Other over-the-counter antihistamine creams are Lanacane, Ivarest and Anthisan. Pain relievers, antibiotics, moisturizers and other proprietary ingredients are added to each formula. Homeopathic OxyHives is another option.
Prescription Cream for Hives
Corticosteroid creams like Cortaid (hydrocortisone) and Kenalog (triamcinolone) are often prescribed for reducing the affects of histamines. Hydrocortisone is a steroid cream, so it's important to notify your doctor of other medications you may be using, to avoid conflicting interactions.
Warning for Hives Treatment
Topical treatment, like lotion, for hives is best used when the hives are an allergic reaction to something you touched, as opposed to something you ingested. Eating something you're allergic to, and having histamine released throughout the body via the bloodstream, can be very dangerous. According to New York pharmacist Corey Nahman, hives that develop inside the throat or on the tongue, for example, can cause suffocation. Hives that interfere with heart function or breathing can result in anaphylactic shock.
Anyone suffering from hives who experiences shortness of breath, tightening in the chest, loss of consciousness or other breathing difficulties should seek emergency medical attention.