Hives can happen suddenly. One moment your skin is smooth as silk, and the next you have red welts which are very itchy. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) report that around 20 percent of people will experience hives in their lifetime. That is a one out of five chance you’ll encounter the uncomfortable, itchy, red blotches.
What Are Hives?
Hives are a common skin rash. It can be triggered by several sources such as medication, food, irritants, and stress. Their patterns and size can vary. Some hives are the size of the tip of a pencil, and others can be as large as a dinner plate. Hives are a reaction in the skin to a variety causes including allergies and irritants. While hives can clear up on their own withing a day, the burning and itching sensation can go on for weeks. Hives that last for 6 weeks or more are called chronic hives.
The medical term for hives is urticaria. This refers to a topical rash on your skin. Welts and rashes that occur deeper under the skin are called angioedema, and are considered more serious because they can cause swelling in eyelids and mouth. Hives are your body’s way of reacting to the release of chemicals and histamine under the skin. Inflammation and accumulation of fluids due to the release of histamine and chemicals create itchy, burning hives.
Symptoms of Hives
Symptoms of hives are easy to spot. Some of the most common are red, itchy blotches and welts, white spots that appear when the hive is pressed, skin swelling that dissipates within 24 hours then reappears, and a burning sensation on the blotches.
While hives are easy to recognize, it is not so easy to pinpoint the cause. There are many sources that trigger hives.
- Peanuts or other nuts
- Insect bites or stings
- Poisonous plants such as poison ivy or oak
- Pet dander
- Bacterial infections such as a UTI
- Viral infections
- Blood transfusions
- Stress or anxiety
- Contact with chemicals
- Allergy shots
Types of Hives
There are four different categories for hives and/or angioedema.
1. Hereditary Angioedema
This is a rare variety, passed down through families. Painful and non-itchy patches can form on the body in a variety of areas such as face, hands, tongue, or throat.
These hives are caused by tight fitting clothes which cause chafing of the skin, or scratching the skin, and can appear at the same time as other types of hives.
3. Chronic urticaria and/or angioedema
This hives are recurring or chronic, lasting at least six weeks. The cause for these hives are harder to pinpoint but could include autoimmunity problems or viral and bacterial infections.
These are hives that last less than six weeks, and are the most common variety. The causes for urticaria include medications, food, latex or infections.
Treating Hives With Essential Oils
Essential oils come from plants through a process called distillation. This creates a potent oil derived from the plant, containing all the unique properties and characteristics of the plant’s fragrance and medical properties. By using essential oils for your hives, your take advantage of the essence of the plants healing properties.
How To Use Essential Oils for Treating Hives
1.Add Essential Oils To Your Bath
You can add 20 to 30 drops of your choice of essential oil to an oatmeal bath. This will help hydrate your skin, as well as help to heal hives.
2.Use A Humidifier
Dryness in the air can also irritate your skin. Simply add 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil to a humidifier and let it run in whichever room you are spending the most time in.
Use a clean cloth, folded and infused with the essential oil of your choice. The compress can be either cold or hot, whichever gives you the best results. To infuse the cloth, fill a bowl with water, then add 2 to 5 drops of essential oil. Soak the cloth, then apply to hive area after wringing it out. Do not ever scrub the hives, just let the compress do its job.
Irritants in the air such as pollen and pet dander can cause hives. Purifying the air using a diffuser can be an effected line of defense. Simply add water the to diffuser, plus 4 to 6 drops of the essential oil of your choice.
Some essential oils can be safely applied directly onto your skin. Other oils can be applied safely through the use of a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil. Typically, around 30 ml of carrier oil to 20 to 25 drops of essential oil is used.
You can enjoy the therapuetic effects of essential oils in a sauna. Simply pour 1 cup of water with 5 to 6 drops of essential oils over the hot rocks.
Top Essential Oils for Treating Hives
- Peppermint Oil
Peppermint’s cooling power is from the menthol it contains. It helps to reduce inflammation, redness, and itching. Other properties peppermint oil contains is antibacterial, antimicrobial,insecticidal, and anti-allergenic benefits. Peppermint oil is very concentrated, and should not be used directly on the skin. However, you can enjoy the soothing effect of peppermint by mixing the essential oil with a carrier oil such as grape seed, coconut, almond or jojoba oil. If you don’t have any carrier oil, you can use distilled water as the carrier. The diluted oil can be put into a roller or spray bottle, and applied to the irritated skin.
- Lavender Oil
Lavender oil also has a cooling effect, as well as a distinctive and beautiful fragrance. Lavender oil is one of the most versatile oils available. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and analgesic qualities. Besides helping to sooth itching and burning skin, it will also protect you against infections and irritants that cause hives. Lavender can be used topically, or in a bath. For use in a bath, simply add 5 to 7 drops of lavender and a cup of oatmeal or Epsom salt to warm, but not overly hot, water. Baking soda will also work. Stir in the oil and oatmeal or Epsom salt mix, then soak for around 30 minutes for maximum relief.
- Chamomile Oil
There are two different type of chamomile available: Roman and German. Though both will treat hives, German Chamomile is recommended for hives because of its superior anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile is excellent for soothing itchy and irritated skin. Chamomile can be used by mixing 5 to 6 drops in your favorite carrier oil such as almond, coconut, or jojoba. Clean the area before application, and use up to three times a day for maximum healing and relief from hives.
- Lemon Oil
This is a citrus based essential oil that not only smells good, but is anti-inflammatory and antibiotic. Lemon oil will help sooth itchy hives, especially hives caused by insect bites, because of the antioxidant quality. All citrus essential oils are photosensitive, so always store them out of the sunlight and use at night. To use lemon oil, mix with a carrier oil before applying.
- Myrrh Oil
Myrrh has been around for thousands of years, and treats a wide range of ailments. Myrrh will help sooth the itchiness of hive because of it’s potent anti-inflammatory quality. It also helps the healing process because of the antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. To use myrrh for hives, make a balm by using a sterile jar. Place an ounce or two of Shea butter, then slowly heat in hot water to soften the butter. Once the Shea butter is soft, stir in 5 to 6 drop of myrrh oil then stir. After the mixture has cooled and hardened, you will have an effective balm to help heal and sooth your hives.
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a heavy hitting essential oil when it comes to treating skin conditions. It is packed with anti-fungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and analgesic properties. This oil can be used on most skin abrasions such as shingles, acne, and of course, hives. To use tea tree oil for hives, mix 5 to 6 drops of oil in hot water. Use a clean cloth or towel to make a hot compress by soaking it in the water and oil mixture. Wring it out, then apply gently to affected skin. Another easy treatment with tea tree oil is to put 5 or 6 drops in a bath, and soak for about 30 minutes.
- Helichrysum Oil
This is a less commonly known oil that packs a punch. It is a potent oil containing anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiseptic, and anti-allergenic properties. It can be used to help treat a wide range of skin conditions. Because of all the healing qualities this oil has, it will calm irritations, reduce swelling, prevent itching, and heal rashes from hives. To use helichrysum oil for hives, make a gel by mixing two ounces of Aloe Vera with 7 drops of helichrysum essential oil. Store in an air-tight container and apply directly onto the hives. This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator, adding the extra benefit of a cooling sensation.
Other Natural Remedies for Hives
Essential oils are a great way to deal with hives, but there are other effective home remedies available.
1. Cold Compress
Cold compresses can help sooth the burning and itching caused by hives. This happens because the cold shrinks blood vessels, blocking histamines that create the swelling and itching. To create a cold compress, wrap 4 or 5 ice cubes in a clean cloth, and apply to the hives, without rubbing, for about 10 minutes. Repeat this up to three times a day. Never place ice cubes directly on the hives. Also, taking a cold bath or shower also helps to sooth itchy and burning hives.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera, with its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, help reduce swelling, redness, and itching. It comes in a gel, and is applied topically. Just apply it to your skin, and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. The application can be made several times in a day for fast relief from hives. Aloe Vera can also be taken internally. A couple of tablespoons Aloe Vera juice each day can boost your immune system, but is not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or lactating.
Ginger is commonly called the “wonder drug” because of its vast range of uses and potency. It is effective for hives because it is an anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine product. This wonder drug targets the genes and enzymes that create inflammation, and relieves itching and swelling by improving circulation. There are a few different methods of using ginger. One method is to simply drink ginger tea or chew on ginger pieces two or three times a day. Another strategy is to chill the ginger root. Then peel the skin off the fresh ginger, and dab the ginger onto the affected skin. Lastly, a solution of one cup brown sugar, three-fourths cup of vinegar, and a tablespoon of fresh ginger root can be boiled together, cooled, then applied to hives. This can be mixed with a little warm water and used up to three times a day.
Fill your bathtub with warm water, then add one cup of baking soda, and two cups of ground oatmeal. Stir it in and then enjoy a relaxing and soothing bath for 15 minutes, up to twice a day. Another use for oatmeal is to create a paste by mixing two cups of ground oatmeal with two tablespoons of baking soda. Then add enough water to make a paste that can be spread easily. Apply it on the hives for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. Oatmeal is an effective help for hives because it is a non-irritant and contains anti-inflammatory and soothing qualities to help you get relief from swelling and itching.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Though this common pantry item would seem to not be a good candidate for fighting against hives, it has much to offer. Because of its strong antihistamine agents, apple cider vinegar helps reduce swelling. It also quickly boosts the immune system. Another surprising quality is that it helps promote healthy skin. To take advantage of this product, create an apple cider bath by mixing in two cups of apple cider vinegar into a tub filled with hot water. Soaking for 20 minutes a day will prove to be soothing, healing, and relaxing. Another way to utilize apple cider vinegar is to dilute it with an equal amount of water, and use it topically on hives. Lastly, mixing one to two tablespoons of the vinegar with water, with a little honey for taste, assists your body when dealing with hives.
6. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is another anti-inflammatory product, bolstered with strong astringent and antioxidant properties to help sooth swelling, redness, and itching. It is used on hives by simply dabbing it on hives several times a day. It can also be used in conjunction with Aloe Vera,and lavender oil.
This technique, while not technically a home remedy, is especially recommended for those who have chronic hives. This is a holistic health treatment dating back thousands of years. Developed by the Chinese, acupuncture is practiced by trained professionals. They address your hives by inserting very thin needles into your skin in order to stimulate specific points to promote healing. The goal, when it comes to hives, is to provide immediate relief from the painful and uncomfortable symptoms and by getting to the root of the cause of them. Any underlying triggers can be discovered and dealt with gently.
Hives are unpleasant. They can appear suddenly and immediate cause discomfort. Though they are easy to spot, their cause can be elusive. It is comforting to know that hives can be dealt with in many ways varying from essential oils to other tried and true home remedies. Redness, swelling, and itching are all symptoms of hives, and should not be ignored. Whether you use one of the many available essential oils, or try one or more of the home remedies, it is wise to try natural healing methods before relying on prescription drugs to take care of the problem.