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Hives, also referred to as urticaria, is a common condition that presents itself with red, bumpy, and itchy spots, affecting over 20% of the population. Hives rashes appear and go away, then reappear in different parts of the body. Many things lead to the appearance of hives, but the most common culprit is an allergic reaction.
In cases where the cause of hives is unidentified, the best option to address the issue is finding the right treatment options to relieve the symptoms.
The primary treatment method for hives is the use of antihistamines. These medications inhibit the release of histamine by the immune system, which is thought to trigger hives in most people. Antihistamines can be taken orally in the form of pills or liquid. Here are the main options:
The most traditional and well-known antihistamines such as Benadryl and Vistaril, while effective, are usually not recommended for daytime use as these medicines cause drowsiness. In addition, these only provide short-term relief, necessitating multiple doses per day.
There are some newer and currently more preferred antihistamines, including Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec. These antihistamines remain in effect for much longer while causing only mild drowsiness. A majority of these newer options are also nonprescription, available over-the-counter.
Of course, Benadryl can still be highly effective if taken at nighttime as it improves sleep quality despite uncomfortable symptoms of hives like itching.
Additional Treatment Options
If antihistamines prove ineffective, there are some other options available in the medication department that are far more effective in addressing chronic hives symptoms. Some of these include:
Histamine blockers (H2 Blockers): These drugs constrict blood vessels of the skin, easing irritation and inflammation. Typically used in combination with antihistamines for better results, some of the most common H2 blockers are Pepcid and Tagamet.
Corticosteroids: These are medications taken orally in cases where other treatments do not work; corticosteroids relieve inflammation by hindering the immune response responsible for hives. However, corticosteroids are potent drugs that can only be used short-term as prolonged use of them can have adverse side effects.
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