The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology suggests that only 10 to 20 percent of people experience an episode of hives at least once in their lifetime -- but that doesn’t make the skin reaction any less distressing when it pops up on your body. The itchy little splotches form swollen welts that scatter across your sensitive skin. Although it might not always be possible to halt hives from occurring altogether, a few simple strategies can often keep them at bay.
Identify the trigger or cause. Hives are often related to infections, viruses or allergic reactions. In some cases, the pink welts pop up after exposure to cold temperatures, sunlight, heat, vibrations or pressure against the skin. They can also emerge when you’re feeling anxious, panicked or embarrassed.
Keep a journal if you’re having trouble identifying the trigger. When hives occur, immediately write down any activities you’re doing, any foods, beverages or medications you’ve recently occurred and the type of environment you’re in. After a few weeks or months of tracking the itchy blotches, you and your doctor should be able to identify a pattern.
Avoid your trigger. Of course, it seems like a naively easy answer to the problem -- but it’s the only surefire way to stop the hives from happening. If you break out in hives after eating tomatoes, avoid tomatoes and tomato-based products. It’s really that simple, although it may not always be easy.
Use relaxation techniques if your hives frequently occur during moments of panic or anxiety. Take a few moments to close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Focus on a happy thought or repeat a positive mantra in your mind. If you can mentally control your anxiety, your body’s physical reaction should dissipate.
Minimize your exposure if you can’t avoid it altogether. If the swollen splotches occur when you’re exposed to cold temperatures, you’ll have a hard time avoiding your trigger unless you pack up and head for a new home on the beach. Although it’s a tempting option, it’s probably not realistic. Instead, just dress warm and keep most of your skin covered when tackling frigid temps.
- Talk to your doctor about a regular medication regimen if your hives are a consistent problem despite your efforts at prevention. You can always pop an antihistamine pill the moment hives appear, but this strategy doesn’t really stop the hives from happening. However, a daily dose of medication can keep the blotches at bay before they occur. Hives are most often treated with non-sedating antihistamines.
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.