Hives (urticaria) are among the most common skin conditions among humans, but that doesn’t make them any less irritating. These red, itchy welts can be triggered by an allergic reaction, stress, certain medications, sunlight, extreme temperatures, and more. Although most breakouts of hives disappear on their own, you’ll probably wonder, “how can I get rid of hives fast?” whenever they appear, especially if you struggle from chronic hives. Though there’s no cure for hives (i.e., there’s no way to completely prevent future outbreaks), there are several ways to treat them depending on their strength, location, and prevalence. Let’s examine some dermatological methods for treating hives so your skin can rest easy.
We have histamines to thank for hives and other allergic responses. Simply put, when our immune system feels threatened, white blood cells distribute histamines, which in turn increase blood flow in specific areas and cause inflammation – this is why hives appear at the precise location your skin was contacted by a certain trigger. One of the best ways to combat hives, then, is to dampen this response via antihistamines. Over-the-counter antihistamines include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin). These oral treatments work in many cases, but they’re not always powerful or targeted enough to get the job done. If you suffer from severe hives, your dermatologist may prescribe prednisone (an oral corticosteroid) or leukotriene-receptor antagonists (non-steroidal oral treatments).
You might also consider topical ointments and creams to get rid of hives. Calamine lotion works well to relieve itching, and the less you touch and scratch your hives, the sooner they’ll go away. Cortizone cream and other topical treatments containing soothing ingredients like alo vera can also calm rashes and hives. If these easily accessible topical treatments don’t do the trick, however, you’ll probably be wondering, “can a dermatologist help with hives with better results?” Indeed, there are more powerful topicals available via prescription, including dapsone (which we’ll discuss further below) and corticosteroid creams. These treatments must be taken carefully as directed, as misuse can result in various side effects.
Those suffering from chronic hives might require a different approach for eliminating them. Dapsone, which we mentioned above, is a prescription-strength oral and topical antibiotic medication that treats hives and other inflammatory symptoms caused by bacterial infection. Omalizumab (Xolair) is another option for tresating chronic hives without a known cause – this injectable treatment interferes with immunoglobulin E, which is involved with allergic responses. The most sudden and severe allergic hive outbreaks may require an immediate response via epinephrine injection (Epi-Pen).
Ultimately, your dermatologist will tell you that the best way to keep hives at bay is to figure out what materials and factors bring them about in the first place. That way, you can make a concerted effort to avoid your triggers. Common triggers include food allergies, insect stings/bites, physical stimuli, latex, medications, plants, pollen, pet dander, viral and bacterial infections, high stress levels, and more. Ultimately, you might find that changing up your diet and/or lifestyle can keep your skin free from hives without any other interventions. Maintaining good hygiene and taking good care of your skin doesn’t hurt, either.
The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are committed to helping our patients find optimal and effective solutions for their skin’s health and appearance. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.