Hives – A Basic Overview

What are Hives?

Before delving into the various hives treatment options, it’s important to understand hives, what causes them and the symptoms to watch out for if you think you may have hives. Hives, known as urticaria medically, is a skin reaction that involves an outbreak of reddish wheals or bumps. In most cases, this reaction occurs suddenly and often occurs due to an allergic reaction.

While hives may occur anywhere on the body, they generally start showing up on areas of the body that are covered, such as the stomach, rash on the neck, back, chest, upper thighs and upper arms. They may only be the size of a pencil eraser or they could be as large as a dinner plate. Sometimes hives even join, forming large plaques on the skin. Sometimes hives may only stick around for a few hours, but they could last 24 hours, or even longer.

What Causes Hives?

You may be wondering what causes hives. Generally, hives are a result of an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions cause the release of histamines within the body, which may cause hives to appear. Certain chemicals found in foods, exposure to the sun, reactions to medications or even insect stings could cause hives. For some people, a concrete cause for hives is never found.

Signs and Symptoms of Hives

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of hives so you can begin using a hives treatment as soon as you notice them.

Early Signs and Symptoms

  • Raised reddish or pink bumps that are smooth and of various sizes.
  • Itching around the bumps.
  • Bumps start on areas of the skin that are covered.
  • Wheals or bumps may appear, disappear and be replaced by new ones.
  • In the beginning, hives may only appear in small patches, but patches could start running together until most of your body is covered.
  • Burning and discomfort from the bumps/wheals.

Severe Symptoms That Requires Immediate Medical Attention

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Irregular or fast heart beat
  • Fainting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Swelling of the tongue, throat or face
  • Dizziness
  • Throat or chest tightness
  • Problems swallowing
  • Loss of consciousness

NOTE: If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately!

Tips for Preventing Hives

While finding good hives treatment options is important, it’s better to try to prevent hives if possible. In this chapter, learn important tips that will help you prevent hives before they happen, saving you from all the discomfort that comes with hives.

Work to Avoid Triggers

One tip to follow if you want to prevent hives is to work on avoiding triggers. You may already know what triggers your hives and you can use this information to prevent them in the future. Maybe your triggers are food additives, particular foods or drinking alcohol. Whatever your triggers are, make sure you avoid them to avoid further problems with hives.

Another important tip is to try keeping a diary to find your triggers. Keep a daily diary that tracks what you eat, your activities, where you went and what time it is when hives occur. As you continue to keep your diary, you and your doctor may be able to see patterns that will help you figure out what is triggering your hives. Once you identify the triggers, you have a better chance at preventing future issues.

Avoid Certain Medications

Certain medications may need to be avoided if you want to prevent hives. Medications that often cause hives include ibuprofen, including Motrin and Advil; naproxen sodium, including Anaprox and Aleve and Aspirin. Some people also break out in hives after using medications that contain codeine.

Reduce Stress

Chronic stress causes hives in some individuals, so you may need to work on reducing stress as a way to prevent hives. Stress can reduce the immune response of your body, making it hard for your body to take care of allergens. Your skin, which is the largest organ of your body, is susceptible to chronic stress, which means that regular stress could result in a breakout of hives.

When your body is dealing with too much stress, it starts to produce various stress hormones, such as adrenaline, vasoactive intestinal peptide and cortisol. Sometimes these hormones may actually damage tissues in your body, resulting in increased production of histamines, which can lead to a hives breakout.

Start making changes in your life to reduce your stress levels. Exercise, try meditation, take time for fun hobbies and use other ideas to relax and let the stress melt away. While you can’t totally eliminate stress, you can work to reduce stress in your life, effectively preventing hives.

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Some people find that extreme temperatures cause their hives, so it’s a good idea to avoid extreme temperatures if you want to prevent hives. Not only should you avoid extreme outdoor temperatures, but you need to avoid extreme temperatures when you are showering or bathing. Instead of cranking up the hot water, a lukewarm or cool shower or bath is less likely to end up irritating your skin.

Choose Natural, Loose Clothing

Keeping your skin cool is important, so choose natural, loose clothing to prevent hives. Try to stick with clothes made of natural fibers, such as cotton, which will allow your skin to breathe. Clothing should be comfortable and loose. Avoid clothing that makes you itch or sweat, since this could increase your chance of breaking out in hives. Choosing breathable, lightweight clothing is especially important right after you have had an attack of hives.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Last, eat a healthy diet if you want to prevent hives. Making sure that you eat healthy foods that offer your body good immune system support is essential. Vitamin C is an important vitamin that helps support your immune system, so work on eating foods that have a large amount of vitamin C. Great foods to add to your diet that contain vitamin C include tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, green peppers, citrus fruits, cantaloupe and turnip greens.

It’s also important to eat foods that have plenty of vitamin B12 in them, such as soy products, poultry, dairy, eggs and fish. Getting plenty of quercetin in your diet is also important, since quercetin contains natural antioxidants and antihistamines. Foods that have quercetin in them include cherries, broccoli, apples, green tea, raspberries, onions, leafy greens, red grapes and red wine. Drink plenty of water as well, which is just as important as a healthy diet.

Medical Hives Treatment Options

Several medical hives treatment options are available. In most cases, these medications will not actually be able to cure hives, but they are designed to help treat your symptoms. If you see your doctor, he will probably use one of these treatment options to try to ease your discomfort.

Over the Counter and Prescription Antihistamines

Antihistamines are the most common type of medical treatment for hives. These medications work by helping to reduce the effects of histamines in the body. Many antihistamines do make your drowsy, which is something to consider before taking them.

Fexofenadine or Allegra and Loratadine or Claritin are also over the counter antihistamines, but they are less likely to result in drowsiness when you take them. If you need to take antihistamines during the day, these two options may be better choices.Over the counter antihistamines include chlorpheniramine or Chlor-Trimeton and diphenhydramine or Benadryl. Both of these medications can be taken three times daily, but they do cause drowsiness, so many people prefer to take them when they go to bed. If you do take them during the day, take them with caution.

Your doctor may prescribe you prescription antihistamines as well, such as levocetirizine (Xyzal) and cyproheptadine (Periactin). While the cyproheptadine can make your drowsy, levocetirizine does not. In some cases, H2 blockers, another type of antihistamine may be combined with these medications, including cimetidine (Tagamet) and ranitidine (Zantac). Always take these prescription medications as directed.

Topical Treatments

Topical medical treatments are available hives treatment options. One of them is OxyHives. OxyHives is a homeopathic remedy for the relief of the ugly, itchy and uncomfortable symptoms of hives. It does not make you drowsy and it does not cause any negative side effects. It was formulated by homeopathy experts to provide safe relief from the many symptoms of hives. It was created with a unique blend of all-natural ingredients which have been used in the past for treatment of the symptoms of hives.

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