Hives (urticaria) appear as red, itchy bumps on the skin after exposure to certain foods, heat, or medications. They’re an allergic reaction on your skin that may appear as small ovals or patches several inches in diameter.

Hives can be caused by physical stimuli such as cold, overheating, or sun exposure.

They may fade within 24 hours of appearing. If hives require treatment, they can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or drugs that suppress your immune system.

Additionally, there are home remedies that can be effective in treating hives.

Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines are commonly used to treat hives. They work to block your body’s histamine response. Common options include:

If symptoms continue or worsen, consider talking with your doctor about prescription medication to provide relief.

The anti-inflammatory properties of oatmeal can soothe hives, as long as you’re are not allergic to any component of oatmeal.

Add up to one-and-a-half cups of colloidal oatmeal to a bath, making sure the water is not too hot. Too much heat can trigger hives and make treatment ineffective.

Soak in the oatmeal bath for no more than 15 minutes, and avoid scratching your skin with the towel when drying off.

With anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera is commonly used to treat sunburn, but it can also be effective in soothing hives.

Double-check to make sure that you’re not allergic to aloe vera before applying it to your skin. Rub aloe vera on the affected area a few times per day.

Because hives can be caused or worsened by heat, applying a cold compress to hives for up to 10 minutes can relieve irritation.

Wrap ice in a towel or soft cloth and apply to your skin. For an ice pack that conforms to your body, consider wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables for application to your skin.

Calamine lotion is commonly used to relieve itching for skin reactions such as poison ivy or poison oak. It can also treat hives. If you’re not allergic to calamine, use a pad or cloth to apply calamine lotion to your skin.

Several lifestyle changes may help prevent you from experiencing hives or worsening symptoms.

Take note of the types of soap you’re using and how you’re applying it — rubbing too hard on your skin may cause irritation and result in hives. Also consider using soap labeled for sensitive skin.

It’s also helpful to track your eating habits to learn which foods may be causing an allergic reaction. You’re more likely to experience hives if you have an allergy to:

Hives can be a serious allergic reaction that requires medical attention. If you feel swelling in your throat, are having difficulty breathing, or your symptoms are getting worse, seek immediate medical attention.

Your doctor may provide an injection of epinephrine, which is a type of adrenaline.

Hives are generally treatable or may disappear on their own, so initial treatment with home remedies can be an effective option.

Ensure you are not allergic to any elements in the treatment, and if symptoms worsen, persist, or escalate quickly, seek medical attention.