Causes and Cures for Hives

What can be done for hives? I have been under a lot of stress lately and I am sure that is what has caused them. Is there anyway to get rid of these things short of going to the doctor? They are driving me crazy.

Hives for the most part are more annoying than they are dangerous. They affect about 20% of the population, most frequently people who already experience other allergic reactions. They appear as batches of itchy red bumps, with clearly defined edges and flat tops. The bumps quickly join together to form large flat areas of raised lesions. They will rapidly change in shape and size, which is unique to hives. Hives are usually caused by an allergic reaction, but can also be brought on by stress. They are the result of the body releasing histamines into the bloodstream in response to either a medication (frequently penicillin or aspirin), food (often nuts or shellfish), heat, insect bite, animal dander (usually cat), or emotional stress.

But hives can also be a symptom of a more serious condition. If a person's hives are accompanied by a fever, swelling in the throat, wheezing, or shortness of breath they should see a doctor. Hives may also follow an infection or illness.

For those who simply suffer from hives without any of the accompanying symptoms described above, there are several over the counter and homemade remedies available. First, if a person knows what brought the hives on, they should avoid contact with that food, medication, etc. This includes stress! Hives are perhaps an obvious symptom of emotional stress but sustained levels of stress can affect a woman's health in more long-term ways as well, including an increased risk of heart disease.

Second, since hives are caused by the result of histamines, an oral antihistamine will often resolve them. (Benadryl is the best over the counter choice.) A woman's doctor or health provider may also prescribe cortisone drugs to relieve the itching and rash, or adrenaline (epinephrine) for severe symptoms. Aspirin, ibuprofen, laxatives, diuretics, codeine, and any barbiturate should be avoided, as they may make matters worse.

A person with hives shouldn't take hot baths or showers, this aggravates the skin, she should try cold water compresses instead, or a cold shower. Tight clothing or underwear, any skin irritation, will trigger more outbreaks. The symptoms will only be intensified if a woman gets hot or sweaty; for this reason it is advisable to avoid exercise.

Hives will usually disappear within a few days. If a woman experiences them chronically, she should keep a food and medication diary, and pay close attention to what she might be exposed to both at home and on the job.

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