Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Understanding Hives -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Hives?

The first step in controlling hives is to identify the cause, if possible. If the source of the problem can be identified and avoided, try to avoid exposure to it in the future. A mild case of hives often disappears on its own after a few hours. A longer-lasting case should respond to the manufacturer's recommended dosage of an over-the-counter oral antihistamine. If your hives don't disappear in a few days, you should see a doctor. If you develop symptoms of angioedema or anaphylaxis, get medical help immediately.

For chronic or especially troublesome outbreaks of hives, your doctor will probably order a course of prescription antihistamines. Treatment with oral corticosteroids will sometimes reduce swelling when antihistamines don't work, but they are usually reserved for more severe cases. A biologic drug, omalizumab (Xolair), is also approved for chronic hives in those age 12 and over. If you have the subsurface swelling of angioedema, you may require hospitalization.

Recommended Related to Allergies

Food Allergies: 5 Myths Debunked

Nearly a third of people living in the U.S. believe they have a food allergy, according to a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association . But only 5% of children and 4% of teens and adults have true food allergies. Why do many people think they have a food allergy when they don't? Experts say it’s because people don’t understand what really constitutes a food allergy and they often misuse the term. “Unfortunately, the term ‘allergy’ is sometimes used by the public...

Read the Food Allergies: 5 Myths Debunked article > >


Home Remedies for Hives

If you are severely allergic to bee stings or other insect bites, certain foods, or medications, ask your doctor about prescribing an emergency kit containing epinephrine (also called adrenaline), which is an injection used to treat anaphylaxis and associated hives. Always carry two epinephrine kits with you.

Call Your Doctor About Hives If:

  • You experience recurring bouts of hives lasting a month or more; you may have a chronic condition that needs professional treatment.

Call 911 or get emergency medical help immediately if any of the following occurs:

  • Burning or itchy welts begin to develop in your throat; you may be at risk of suffocation. This requires immediate medical attention.
  • You develop hives accompanied by dry throat, cough, cold sweats, nausea, dizziness, difficult breathing, or a sharp drop in blood pressure after an exposure to a bee sting or insect bite or a new medication; this may be a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. This requires immediate attention.
  • You develop symptoms of angioedema, particularly in the head and neck; this requires immediate medical attention before the condition spreads to the throat or tongue and blocks the air passage to the lungs.

If you have epinephrine available and begin showing signs of anaphylaxis, do not hesitate to use the epinephrine auto-injector, even if you are unsure whether your symptoms are allergy related. Using the auto-injector as a precaution will not harm you.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on October 21, 2015

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?

blowing nose
woman with sore throat
lone star tick
Woman blowing nose

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Allergy prick test
Man sneezing into tissue
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching