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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Lim Sock Ling and Dr Jessica Gunawan on February 17, 2023

Best Urticaria Treatment Options To Soothe Your Hives

Hives can pop up for unexpected reasons, such as genetics, diet, and exposure to certain environmental factors. Here are the best urticaria treatment options to help stop that itchy skin rash.

Hives min scaled

You never know when you may need urticaria treatment. Otherwise known as hives, urticaria can pop up on your skin when you least expect it.

These itchy red skin rashes can occur in one area of your body only or they can spread across several regions. Identifying triggering factors can help reduce symptoms in the future.

While symptoms are active, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedies should be added to your urticaria treatment plan as they are highly effective at soothing skin. Read on to learn what type of hives you might have and how to get relief.

What Is Urticaria?

A severe care of hives or urticaria on a male's arm
Hives is an itchy skin rash that forms welts on the skin. It can occur on any part of your body.

Urticaria is the medical name for hives, an itchy skin rash characterized by red, inflamed welts or bumps.

It can appear on only one area or spread across large areas of the body. The rash can range from a few millimeters to the size of a person’s hand.

In TCM, hives are related to diet, genetics, or a body constitution imbalance.

“People who inherit an intrinsic body type or weak Lungs are most vulnerable to skin allergies. Unhealthy eating will accumulate Heat and Dampness in the stomach and intestines, contributing to an outbreak of hives. Blood Deficiency can lead to skin itchiness and dryness.” 

TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling

Some of the more common types of urticaria include: 

Cold hives 

This type of hives is uncommon and can develop after exposure to cold water, temperature, or objects. It’s unclear what causes the condition. 

However, it has been linked to infections and underlying health problems. In TCM, cold hives are believed to be brought on by Wind and Coldness.

Solar hives 

Like cold hives, solar urticaria is also rare. A person diagnosed with this type of hives will briefly develop skin swelling after exposure to natural sunlight

The emission of light from an artificial source can also provoke the onset of the condition. 

Vibratory hives 

Actions that vibrate skin are the main culprit behind this type of hives. Examples of these are:  

  • Mowing a lawn 
  • Riding a horse 
  • Cycling over a stone pathway 
  • Massaging or toweling an area of the body 
  • Using power tools like drills, jackhammers, and metal grinders 

Aquagenic hives 

The rapid development of a skin rash is the most notable trait of aquagenic urticaria. Sometimes, a person may also suffer itching. 

Aquagenic urticaria happens when a person’s skin encounters water, irrespective of temperature.

Cholinergic hives 

A common type of hives, cholinergic hives stem from sweat-inducing stimuli and prompt a temporary onset of itchy skin bumps. TCM associates the Wind-Heat pathogen with the occurrence of these hives. 

Dermographism hives 

Downward pressure or trauma will lead to the appearance of swollen skin in people with dermographism. It’ll take the shape of the applied external force. A person with this type of hives can also experience symptoms like itching and skin redness.

Pressure or delayed pressure hives 

Dermographism and pressure hives share a common characteristic: the appearance of skin bumps after applying force.

However, pressure hives can also cause pain, itching, and a burning sensation on the skin. Pressure on the skin from tight-fitting clothing or a purse strap, for example, can apply enough pressure to cause hives. 

The symptoms of this type of hives can develop immediately after stimulation or after four to six hours. Pressure hives can also be aggravated by heat, aspirin use, or menstruation

Best Urticaria Treatment Options

A young woman applying a fragrance-free moisturizing cream to her arm to prevent dry skin
Applying a fragrance-free moisturizing cream can help prevent skin from drying out.

A healthcare provider can usually diagnose hives by looking at the rash. They may also conduct a blood test and a skin prick or patch test.

A small amount of the allergen is applied to the skin to see if it reacts to determine the underlying triggers of the condition. 

After a diagnosis is made, here are some urticaria treatment options you can try:

Lifestyle changes

Making a few simple changes to your lifestyle can help relieve itching in people with chronic hives. These include:  

  • Avoiding environments with high temperatures or humidity 
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothes and clothes made from cotton fabric  
  • Applying a cold compress to an affected area of skin (unless you’ve been diagnosed with cold hives) 
  • Prevent dry skin by applying a fragrance-free skin moisturizer several times a day
  • Avoiding gluten

Medications for urticaria treatment

Over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines are suitable for treating hives. The medication’s mode of action is to suppress the effect of histamine. Histamine is a type of chemical in the skin that causes allergy symptoms

It’s preferable to use antihistamines that don’t make a person woozy. These are more effective, induce fewer side effects and you can take them more than once daily.

An allergist may suggest combining two or three types of antihistamines with cold compresses or anti-itch to ease a person’s symptoms. 

Acupuncture for urticaria treatment 

Studies show that acupuncture can successfully calm the symptoms of hives. This is attributed to the treatment’s ability to improve blood circulation, thus reducing inflammation. Several acupuncture points commonly used to treat hives include:

  • Qu Chi (LI11) 
  • Xue Hai (SP10) 
  • San Yin Jiao (SP6) 
  • Zu San Li (ST36) 

Urticaria treatment herbal remedies

You can use herbal formulas and ingredients to tackle the specific internal imbalances that cause hives. Physician Lim recommends these common formulas:

Wind-Cold

This is when hives are white and symptoms worsen with exposure to cold. It could likely be associated with cold hives. Ma Huang Gui Zhi Ge Ban soup will help dissipate Wind, remove Cold and stop the itch. 

Wind-Heat

This condition occurs when hives are bright red, warm, and itchy, and worsens in warm weather. Xiao Feng powder helps dissipate Wind, clear Heat and stop itching.

Damp-Heat in the digestive tract

During this condition, hive patches are large, red, and extremely itchy. Patients often experience abdominal pain, nausea, and poor bowel movements as well. Fang Feng Tong Shen powder helps dissipate Wind and clear Heat from the intestines.

Blood Deficiency with Wind-Dryness

This condition is a result of repeat occurrence that leads to a chronic condition. You tend to be easily frustrated and short-tempered from the late afternoon onwards.

Other symptoms include warm palms and feet, and thirsty and dry skin. Nourish blood, remove Wind, improve dryness and stop itching with Dang Gui Yin Zi.

Other herbs such as dittany bark (Bai Xian Pi), dried peony root bark (Mu Dan Pi), and Kochia fruit (Di Fu Zi) are common recommendations to treat hives.

Those on blood-thinning medications should practice caution when using Dang Gui Yin Zi, dried peony root bark, hawthorn berry, and Chinese Angelica root. Those with Blood Deficiencies should refrain from using siler root (fang feng).

Ask A TCM Physician About Urticaria Treatment

Getting immediate medical attention can prevent the symptoms of hives on the skin from worsening. Likewise, consulting a TCM practitioner before using herbal remedies can keep potential contraindications at bay.

Do you have tips for managing hives that can help others? If so, let us know in the comments below.

References

  1. NHS inform. Urticaria (hives)
  2. Indian Journal of Dermatology. CHRONIC URTICARIA
  3. Allergy & Asthma Network. Cold Urticaria
  4. Medscape. 2022. Solar Urticaria
  5. DermNet. 2020. Vibratory urticaria
  6. National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences. Aquagenic urticaria
  7. DermNet. 2022. Cholinergic urticaria
  8. NCBI Bookshelf. Dermatographism
  9. Medscape. 2019. Pressure urticaria – Background
  10. Medscape. 2019. Pressure urticaria – Etiology
  11. American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 WAYS TO GET RELIEF FROM CHRONIC HIVES
  12. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Hives

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