Two days ago, Jada woke up with itchy red bumps here and there on her body. As the day progressed, they got bigger, itchier, and spread everywhere. She had hives. She’s had them a few times before, but I’ve never been able to put my finger on what causes them.
Her poor little face. It started out like this:
And then a little bit later it looked like this:
Then it got worse:
Both cheeks were like this, and her ears were very red and swollen as well. Her entire body was covered in a horribly itchy rash.
The doctors have never really been any help when she’s had hives in the past. All they tell me is to give her Benadryl, which I don’t like to do. So, instead of drugging her up, I began searching for a more natural treatment.
The first remedy I came across said to fill a bathtub half full with water, and add 1/2 cup of baking soda, and 1/2 cup of cornstarch. I ran a nice warm bath, and did as was suggested. Jada hopped in and soaked for a while. I also poured 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats (oatmeal) into a sock, tied it off, and threw it into the bath as well.
When I got her out I was horrified to find that she looked twice as bad as she did before the bath! She stood there scratching like crazy, and looking so pitiful.
I got on the computer and searched for another remedy. Someone said that baby oil worked for them, so I covered her in baby oil. It didn’t do any good. Finally, I got desperate and found some medicated itch cream in my cabinet. I could only use a little bit of it though, as it warned not to apply it to large areas of the body. I dabbed some on her cheeks.
As I kept looking online I came across the same baking soda/ cornstarch treatment again. Though this time, the directions were more specific. I was to give her a COOL bath… not a warm one! The warm water activated the histamines which caused the rash to worsen.
Before she went to bed, I gave Jada another bath. This time with really cool water, with the same mixture as before. I rubbed her body with the oatmeal sock. She was cold, so we made it quick.
I was very pleased the next morning when she woke up and her skin was completely cleared up! Yay!! We went outside and the kids played while I did my chores. Jada and Titus were in the trees, collecting honeysuckle and having a wonderful time.
But when we came back in for lunch I noticed something… Jada was breaking out again! The hives were back, and spreading very quickly. I made a paste out of cream of tartar and water, and rubbed it onto the spots as they appeared. This was very effective at stopping the itching, but the bumps were spreading so quickly, that soon her whole body was once again covered.
Another cool bath, with 1/2 c. of baking soda, 1/2 cup of cornstarch, and an oatmeal sock did the trick.
But I did some more Internet research to find out some other home remedies, just in case this treatment doesn’t work next time (or if it doesn’t work on the other members of the family). There are plenty of home remedies for hives, and you don’t have to go the traditional pharmaceutical route – though I’ll let you know a little bit more about that, too.
Table of Contents:
What Causes Hives?
Hives are basically just welts on the skin. They can be itchy or not itchy and they can appear just about anywhere on the body. They can be as small as the tip of a pen or as large as an entire dinner plate! They can even connect to form larger, more swollen welts – which is what happened with Jada once her hives became more pronounced.
Most cases of hives will go away in 24 hours or less. A lot of people may think that they last longer but this is actually an illusion created by the fact that new hives may appear as old ones fade. Therefore, you might have a case of hives that lasts several days or more. However, you usually won’t experience a reaction longer than six weeks.
Hives are usually caused by allergies, but they can be caused by other issues, too. Technically called urticaria, hives that occur beneath the skin are called angioedema. Angioedema commonly causes the lips and eyelids to swell – in general, hives are no big deal, but if you have angioedema, you need emergency medical care.
If you go to the doctor, they will usually diagnose your hives by just looking at your skin. Figuring out what is causing them can be more tricky, but the doctor might order blood work, a skin biopsy, or allergy tests. This can be a very long process.
Allergic reactions are the most common cause of hives. Some things that may trigger hives related to allergies include:
- Foods (milk, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, and tree nuts are the most common)
- Insect bites or stings
- Touching something you’re allergic to
You may also develop hives for non-allergy reasons. For example, if you have a cold, you might develop hives as your body tries to fight off the cold virus.
Certain types of fungi and bacteria can cause hives, as can certain chronic illnesses like lupus, thyroid disease, and vasculitis. Sometimes, being exposed to extreme cold, heat, or water can cause hives, as can strenuous exercise or stress.
You can even get hives from pressure on the skin, like you might get from sitting too long! I’ve had hives before from touching chemicals and you can even get them from scratching your skin too much. Basically, just about anything can cause hives.
Traditional Pharmaceutical Treatments for Hives
In mild or moderate cases of hives, I personally think a natural remedy works best. However, if you go to the doctor for any case of hives, they will probably prescribe certain medications.
The most common medications are those I mentioned above – antihistamines like Benadryl. These are often used to treat symptoms of hives like itching, and they’re also used to treat chronic hives (those lasting longer than six weeks).
The major downside of antihistamines is that most of the very effective ones tend to be sedating. That’s not good, particularly if you are talking about giving them to little kids.
Doctors will also prescribe other drugs, too, like corticosteroids. The most commonly prescribed corticosteroid for hives is prednisone. This drug can have some serious side effects, so I recommend staying away if possible. If there’s a risk of bacterial infection, your doctor may fight antibiotics or other medications that will fight inflammation.
Usually, hives will go away on their own – but they can be really unpleasant to deal with in the meantime. That’s why I recommend looking at some of the more natural home remedies for hives.
Natural Homemade Remedies for Hives
Use a Cold Compress
Placing something cool on your skin can calm the irritation and prevent more hives from popping up. Just grab a bag of frozen peas and pop them on the skin, or you can even put a handful of ice in the towel. Put it on the itchy hives for ten minutes to avoid burning your skin with the cold.
Cold helps because it shrinks your blood vessels and prevents more histamine from being released. Unless your hives are caused by the cold (which is admittedly rare) applying cold compresses can be really helpful.
Avoid Drying Soaps
There are certain soaps, detergents, and fragrances that can further irritate already-itchy skin. Skip irritating lotions, moisturizers, soaps, and other materials if you know they contain fragrances that will upset your hives.
Wear Lightweight Clothing
When you have any kind of skin irritation, tight-fitting clothing is not only going to make you uncomfortable, but it’s also going to prevent the hives from healing. Plus, it can lead to more damage that can invite infection.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
When you have an outbreak of hives, even if it’s unrelated to sunlight or heat, you are going to want to stay out of the sun. This can cause your hives to worsen or fail to heal.
Apply Witch Hazel
With hazel contains natural tannins that can relieve the irritation cause by hives. You can make your own witch hazel astringent to make the best use of the tannins. Simply add five grams of witch hazel bark to a cup of water. Mash up the bark and pour it into a pot. Boil it and then strain the mixture, allowing it to cool before you apply it.
You can apply with hazel astringent to your skin a few times a day – you will wear it like a face mask. You should let it sit for twenty minutes before rinsing it off.
Use Aloe Vera
Is there any kind of skin irritation that aloe vera doesn’t help? I use it for practically everything. This plant is known for its healing properties, and since it’s an anti-inflammatory, it can help relieve the pain caused by hives. Make sure you test it via a skin patch before you apply it to any hives, though, as it can cause contact dermatitis in some people.
Otherwise, it’s safe to apply aloe vera to your hives as often as you need them. You can use gels, creams, or even try some essential oil.
Try Calamine Lotion
This isn’t technically an all-natural remedy, but I like storebought calamine lotion to help treat hives, too. It cools your skin down and helps relax the skin around the hives. You can use it as often as you need to.
Make a Baking Soda Paste
Baking soda is an excellent treatment for itch skin. All you need to do is add a few drops of water to some baking soda in a small cup. Stir it up until you get a paste, then spread it on your hives to relieve the itching and prevent irritation.
Combine Vinegar with Water
This one may burn a bit when you apply it to your skin, but a mixture of one teaspoon of any kind of vinegar (white, apple cider, etc) and water can help soothe the itching. It will also help prevent infection later on.
Try this Chinese Folk Remedy
A common Chinese folk remedy for hives involves boiling a quarter cup of brown sugar with a tablespoon of fresh ginger along with three-quarters cup of vinegar.
Mix it with a bit of warm water and dab it on your skin a few times a day. Ginger has some pretty powerful healing properties, and the brown sugar certainly makes things smell nice, at least!
Use Nettle Instead of Benadryl
There are some herbalists who claim that stinging nettle can be just as effective as antihistamines. You can take the encapsulated form – you can have 2400 milligrams total per day – or you can pick a few handfuls of the weed and eat it. Just mind the stingers!
Take a Fish Oil Supplement
This tip may not be helpful if you’re already suffering from hives, but if you find that you are prone to hives in a chronic way you might want to start taking fish oil supplements.
Fish oil’s fatty acids have some pretty potent anti-inflammatory properties, and they may be just what you need to prevent hives from coming back. If you don’t want to get in the habit of taking supplements, consider including more tuna, bluefish, and salmon in your diet.
Again, this is another long-term option if you suffer from chronic hives – but hives are often caused by too much stress. They can also make hives worse. If you have chronic tension that can’t be tamed, consider practicing yoga, progressive relaxation, or meditation.
You can also drink valerian, chamomile, or catnip tea on the regular. These herbs all have a naturally sedating effect that can make hives a less frequent affair.
Apply or Take Some Turmeric
Turmeric also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It’s closely related to ginger, and while it’s topical uses haven’t really been studied that much, it is a well-known dietary additive that can make a world of difference when it comes to how your body responds to irritants.
What you need to know is that hives don’t always happen right away – but they can. They can pop up immediately after you have been exposed to a trigger, or they can happen two hours later. There’s no surefire way of preventing them, but it’s good to know if you have any allergies to prevent the reoccurrence of hives in the future.
I’ve decided that, in our case, it’s probably the honeysuckle that is breaking her out. She was playing with it before her first batch of hives, and quickly broke out once more after playing in it again. It could be something else, but we are definitely staying away from the honeysuckle!
Do you have a favorite natural remedy for hives?
update by Rebekah White 08/19/2019
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.