How to relieve hives at home
Have you or your child broken out in an itchy rash? If so, it could be a case of hives. To get relief, follow these tips from board-certified dermatologists.
Most hives go away on their own in a few days or weeks. During this time, you can often relieve the itch and discomfort at home with these tips from board-certified dermatologists.
If you’re seeing a dermatologist for treatment, these tips can also be help reduce your discomfort.
Try not to scratch: This can be difficult as hives are notoriously itchy. When you stop scratching, you stop irritating your skin.
If you have brown or black skin, not scratching also helps to reduce your risk of developing dark areas on your skin, which can appear after the hives clear, and often last much longer than the hives themselves.
Ease the itch: When your skin starts to itch, any of the following can bring relief:
- Apply a cool compress to your itchy skin. To make a cool compress, run a clean washcloth under cold water to get it wet. Wring out the washcloth so that the water doesn’t drip. Then place the wet, cool washcloth on the itchy skin. Leave the washcloth on the itchy area for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Spread an anti-itch cream (or lotion) on the itchy skin. Be sure to follow the directions. If your dermatologist has prescribed one, be sure to use it.
- Add colloidal oatmeal to a bathtub of lukewarm water and soak for the time recommended on the package.
Wear loose-fitting, 100% cotton clothes: This can reduce the irritation on your skin.
Use lukewarm water when taking a bath or shower: When bathing, you want to be very gentle with your skin. Avoid rubbing the itchy skin with a washcloth, loofah, or mesh sponge. It’s best to apply your soap or cleanser by gently putting it on your skin with your hands.
Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free soap or cleanser: Make sure that you use a fragrance-free product rather than an unscented one. An unscented product contains fragrance that’s been covered up so that you cannot smell it. Because an unscented product contains fragrance, it can still irritate your skin.
If you have long-lasting hives or you get hives frequently, keep a journal: Hives develop for many reasons, so it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing them. Keeping a journal may help you find the cause. If you can avoid what’s causing the hives, you can prevent new hives.
You want to jot down the following:
- Date and time the hives started
- What you were doing before the hives began
- Foods and drinks you recently had
- Medications you recently took, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and any prescription medications
- If you recently felt overheated or sweat heavily
- What you were wearing and carrying
- If you’ve been feeling stressed
Keep learning about hives: If you’ve had hives for six weeks or longer, you have a condition called chronic hives. Learning more about hives can help you manage this challenging condition. You’ll find more information about chronic hives at:
Paula Ludmann, MS
Rajiv Nijhawan, MD, FAAD
Dara Spearman, MD, FAAD
Last updated: 2/10/22