It may be challenging to find the right hives medications. Most of the time if the trigger is identified, (in other words the food, medication, or physical stimulus that causes the reaction) then it can be avoided. Also, if the hives are caused by an underlying health condition they may go away with the treatment of that condition. For the most part, however, antihistamines are the medicines administered to treat hives.
Antihistamines block the release of histamines in the body. These hives medications can help control symptoms even in cases of chronic hives. According to emedicinehealth.com, antihistamines are broken into two types: H1 and H2. Short-acting H1 type antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are used in more mild cases. These are usually fairly inexpensive and can be bought over the counter. Long-acting antihistamines, such as Claritin and Zyrtec, may also be used for mild cases.
Prescription antihistamines are often administered by doctors. These include Atarax, Vistaril, Allegra, and Xyzal. Xyzal (levocetirizine) is prescribed often because it does not cause as much drowsiness. Type H2 antihistamines are medications such as Zantac, Tagamet, and Pepcid. They have been found to improve the rash and swelling if taken along with an H1 antihistamine.
In more severe cases, or in cases where hives don’t respond to antihistamines, oral steroids like prednisone or medrol may be prescribed. These help by suppressing the immune system so that allergic reactions don’t occur. Doxepin is an antidepressant that has antihistamine effect. Although antidepressants such as these are not officially approved as hives medications, many doctors find them to be very effective in treating hives.
Epinephrine is administered in more severe cases of hives. This is a powerful histamine blocker that works quickly to reverse allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. It is usually injected or given by an IV line. A saline solution may be given through an IV as well in order to increase blood pressure. Other medications also may be given to keep blood pressure raised. Some severe cases of hives do require hospitalization.
Sometimes swelling (angioedema) can occur and it can block airways. Oxygen may be given through a tube or face mask in times like these. Angeioedema is swelling that occurs suddenly beneath the surface of the skin. Welts and swelling on the skins surface are common too.
People who have angeioedema often need to be hospitalized even when treatments go well. This is because the chance of it reoccurring is high. Angioedema medications are basically the same as hives medications, with the exception of Terbutaline, which is a bronchodilator. If swelling occurs that is making it hard to breath, seek immediate medical attention so that a tube can be placed to keep the airway open.