Help for Hives

Help for HivesI’ve been quiet on here lately because I’ve been suffering from a severe outbreak of hives aka Urticaria for the last month.

What do hives look like? If you’ve never seen this type of reaction before, you’ll find more info and pics here.

They were caused by what I think, is an allergic reaction to a product – namely, mandarin essential oil. I’d eaten a lot of oranges – don’t ask, the week before and my doctor seems to think the mandarin oil was the ‘trigger’ that caused the hives to erupt.

The irony is that I wasn’t testing the product, I always do a 24 hour patch skin test for every new product I trial. This was just something I picked up as a sample and applied a couple of drops to my neck and chest area.

The next day I broke out in an incredibly itchy rash consisting of large and small spots. Hives usually have a life span of 24 hours, but mine of course, have been going for close on to 5 weeks now.

Hives, also known as Urticaria, occur when a trigger causes high levels of histamine and other chemical messengers to be released in the skin. The rash can be limited to one part of the body or spread across large areas of the body. These substances cause the blood vessels in the affected area of skin to open up (often causing redness or pinkness) and become leaky. This extra fluid in the tissues causes swelling and sometimes itchiness.

Histamine is released for a wide range of reasons, including:

  • An allergic reaction to substances
  • Exposure to cold or heat
  • Infection
  • The direct effect of certain chemicals that can be found in some types of food and medications

Urticaria is a common condition. It is estimated that around one person in six will have hives at some point.

The condition is most common in children, women aged 30–60 years old (noooo!) and people with a history of allergies.

Long-term urticaria is much less common and affects around 1 in 1,000 people in England. Women are twice as likely to develop chronic urticaria than men (yeah, it figures).

My doctor prescribed a course of what was essentially ‘Piriton’ (by another name) and Eumovate Cream. Two weeks later, the rash was as bad as ever and I looked to the net for more ‘natural’ cures. I’m not there yet, but the rash has calmed down an awful lot, it doesn’t itch and it’s got to the point where I don’t have to cover it up with a scarf. It still looks absolutely horrible though and I feel I have to tell everyone what it is immediately to reassure them I haven’t got anything contagious.

Hopefully, some of these suggestions will help others suffering from chronic hives.

Nettle Tea

This helps to reduce inflammation. I find if I drink 4-5 cups a day, the rash ‘calms’ down immensely. You could also try Green Tea.

29 Nettle Tea Benefits


‘An over the counter medication that works by blocking the effects of histamine’. I noticed an improvement the very next day.

Witch Hazel

Dries up the spots – I can live with flaky skin.


Activated Charcoal Capsules

Always to be taken on an empty stomach, the charcoal works by absorbing toxins and eliminating them from the body. Again, I find this really helps.


I’ve read a lot of conflicting reports on the net, which is so frustrating, but the following seems to be sensible and informed and I’m doing my best to follow it.

  • Cut down protein intake, especially animal proteins.
  • Try and cut out all dairy, wheat and gluten products.  Dairy, wheat and gluten can contribute HUGELY to histamine release.
  • First thing upon waking up, drink a full glass of clean water with some lime or lemon juice squeezed in. This is great for a gentle liver cleanse.Drink lots of water at regular intervals during the day. Your body releases histamine in order to stop water loss. If you give your body adequate amounts of water, less histamine will be released. This is very important. Many people who suffer from histamine problems are not drinking enough water.
  • Cut out ALL artificial sweeteners. This means those found in diet drinks, many foods (low fat/no fat) and chewing gums.
  • There is no doubt that an organic vegetarian diet is very good for those who have a histamine problem. A diet high in Quercetin and flavonoids such as citrus fruits, berries, onions, parsley, legumes, green tea, and red wine is especially good.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, flax, hemp, borage and evening primrose oils are especially good as they decrease inflammation.A diet high in garlic and onion is very beneficial also (please say sorry to your partners!)
  • Foods high in vitamin C and Bromelain are very good. Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine. Eat oranges, tangerines, fruit juices and pineapple.

Source: LA Muscle

Hives are caused by any number of triggers that causes the skin or tissue to have a reaction and to release histamine or chemicals into the bloodstream. While it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the causal factor of an outbreak of hives, many allergic reactions are common. Typical allergens include food, medicine, other allergens, environmental issues and dermatographia.

More reading: Earth Clinic

As a side note, because I can’t use any creams, serum or even the Body Shop Roller on my neck, it’s starting to get a little crepey. I realise now that gentle massage and moisturising the neck area really did work!

There’s a lot of information on the net, keep in mind that you should look at several sources.  Ignore any wacky ‘quick fix’ suggestions (and there are loads out there) and always consult your doctor or a chemist before you try anything new.

I bought Ec45 Hydrocortisone Cream, because the cream my doctor prescribed wasn’t doing anything. The woman on the till at Boots chemist advised me to try Aloe Vera gel instead, but I said, No, this is fine. A week later after zero progress with the cream, I bought a tube of organic Aloe Vera gel and noticed an immediate improvement.

Not every case of hives is the same, it depends what your body has (suddenly, in my case) disagreed with. Alternatively, stress can also cause an outbreak, which is why Chamomile tea is so often recommend to ease fractured nerves and boost the immune system.

I really feel for anyone suffering from an outbreak of hives on their face. I count myself (relatively) lucky that mine were in an area I could cover up. I’m off on holiday for a couple of weeks and I’m hoping that ‘normal service will be resumed’ when I return.

I hope this post has been informative and as always, I welcome any feedback on here, although you can always email me (details on the contact page) for privacy. I’m no expert, but I am going through this, so I know where you’re coming from!


The rash finally disappeared completely THREE months later!

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