I never suffered from hives (Urticaria). I had this image in my head of hives as small, slightly itchy bumps that wouldn’t really bother me. Until I went clearing a patch of land that was overgrown while wearing shorts. Came out with my legs covered in hives. And nope, not the hives I had always thought of. These were hives that were HUGE. Hard, histamine filled skin surrounding one tiny bump. Swollen calves and ankles. Painful and mother of mercy, itchy.

Being the stubborn sort, I refused anti-histamine. I wanted to follow the natural route as y’know, that’s the way I roll these days. Luckily, the hives lasted for three (long) days so I got to try out a variety of home remedies, more of which below.

Hives are caused by a reaction to substances that we are allergic to (pollen, dust, foods, stress – there are loads of triggers). They can be small or big massive welts that spread outwards. The hives are the result of mast cells in our bodies releasing a protein histamine, which causes inflammation but also makes it easier for white blood cells to tackle foreign cells invading the affected areas. Hives can last from a couple of hours to a few days until the body clears the foreign pathogens and re-absorbs the histamine.

Home remedies are centered around relieving the itching and dispersing the histamine. The following are the ones I tried;

Cold Compress: The easiest of the home remedies and surprisingly effective. Cold naturally shrinks blood vessels thereby impeding the production of histamine so the sooner you can place a cold compress on the affected area, the better. Placing cold, wet paper towels on the area is the easiest solution. Obviously, if your hives are caused by cold conditions, this is one to avoid.

Vinegar: I tried white and brown vinegar applied directly to the hives. You can also mix vinegar with lemon juice and water and consume daily. Vinegar baths are also touted. In all honesty, I can’t say i noticed much difference with the vinegar, no matter what I tried.

Aloe Vera: Applied directly from the leaf, Aloe Vera has a soothing effect on the area and quelled the itch for a time. I kept having to reapply it as its effects wore off. Applying aloe vera to unaffected areas may help prevent the hives from spreading and I didn’t have any further breakouts – but of course I can’t tell if the aloe vera prevented this or if I was destined to have a confined outbreak anyway!

Witch Hazel: A commercially bought solution I had lying around. It soothed the area but only for short periods of time and quickly wore off.

Ginger: While rubbing ginger to the skin I noticed an immediate relief from the hives but it quickly wore off. Thinking about it, I should have included ginger with baking soda (below) and applied it or made some ginger paste to apply to the hives directly. I suspect it would have been very effective.

Hives with Baking Soda paste applied.

Baking Soda: This is my number one home remedy for hives. Mix some baking soda with cold water (and salt if you wish) to form a solid paste. Apply liberally over the affected area. I noticed immediate relief from itching and a cooling sensation. As the paste hardens on the leg, it may flake off but I found that left alone, the relief from the hives lasted as long as the paste lasted. Avoid going out as it will look like you have applied toothpaste to yourself. I found this the easiest and most effective remedy and have no qualms recommending it!