Treatment of Hives

November 9, 2020

Hives, also known as urticaria, are raised red skin outbreaks that appear quickly, frequently in response to allergens such as certain foods or medications, or to emotional stressors. They can itch, burn, or feel painful. It blanches upon slight pressure. A large percentage of people get hives at some point in their lives.

Frequent triggers–some foods and medications cause hives in a number of patients, while some are more unusual, and some can be unique. Some common triggers are:

  • Penicillins, sulfa, aspirin, sulfa
  • Peanuts, shellfish, eggs, nuts, citrus fruits
  • Pressure, cold, heat, exercise, sun exposure


In most cases, urticaria usually goes away by itself in 6 to 12 hours. But in some patients it may last for weeks to even months, with no obvious trigger being found. Below are some remedies:

  • Applying a cool washcloth can lessen discomfort.
  • An oatmeal (Aveeno) bath with baking soda, unscented soap, and lukewarm water is soothing.
  • Patients should avoid bright sunlight, perfume, and fragranced moisturizers.
  • Aloe vera is soothing.
  • Lotions help stop itching, important to eliminate scratching, which can spread the lesions.
    • Calamine lotion
    • Benadryl (diphenhydramine) cream
  • Oral over the counter antihistamines counteract histamine, which drives the reaction.
    • Benadryl (diphenhydramine) 50 mg by mouth, repeat every 6 hours as needed.
    • Allegra (fexofenadine) 180 mg by mouth, once a day with food
    • Claritin (loratadine) 25 to 50 mg by mouth every 4 to 6 hours
    • Zyrtec (cetirizine) 10 mg once or twice a day
  • Prednisone is a form of cortisone, an antiinflammatory hormone prescribed for urticaria. It is taken orally in a dose of 5 to 60 mg per day.
  • If difficulty breathing or swelling of the tongue or face take place, call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency room.

Did you know? QuickMD can treat hives from the convenience of your home, and provide you with a prescription for prednisone online.

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