What're treatments for hives?
The best drug for widespread hives is an antihistamine. It may not cure the hives, but it will reduce their number and relieve itching. Benadryl or its generic equivalent is available without a prescription. It comes in both liquid and tablet form. Benadryl may cause drowsiness, so do not drive while taking it. Continue taking your antihistamine for a day or 2 until you are sure the hives are completely gone. Your medical provider can prescribe a non-sedating antihistamine if necessary. Common
reasons for lack of effectiveness of antihistamines are 1) the particular antihistamine used is not strong enough 2) the antihistamine is not used in a high enough dose 3) the antihistamines are not continued for a long enough period.
If a specific allergen has been identified in the history, this must be eliminated. Acute hives are typically treated with antihistamines like Benadryl, chlorpheniramine, or hydroxyzine. Newer antihistamines with less sedation like Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra can be used. Vigorous rubbing of the skin always worsens hives. For chronic hives, avoidance of aspirin and products containing food additives can be recommended. In clinic or ER situations occasionally shots of antihistamine or steroids will be used. Rare life-threatening situations which involve airway closure and wheezing in addition to hives require adrenalin and close observation. The latter are called anaphylactic reactions and are almost always acute--onset within minutes of exposure to an allergen.
The important thing is that the patient is given enough medication (antihistamines, perhaps in conjunction with other drugs) to suppress the hives. Whatever it is that controls a patients hives, should be the daily regimen, taking the drugs every day, whether or not they have the hives on any given day. The idea is that one is preventing the hives from breaking out.
Some doctors suggest that medications should be continued for long periods - perhaps even a month after the hives have disappeared. Again, the exception to this is the cortisone/steroid-type medications, which should only be used for short periods initially to quiet down the urticaria. Remember that one must work closely with their doctor to find a medication regimen that suppresses the hives until they resolve on their own.