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Also called urticaria, hives are red welts on your skin that are often quite itchy. They can appear anywhere on your body. Hives are typically caused by:

If you have mild hives, your doctor might prescribe an over-the-counter antihistamine such as:

  • loratadine (Claritin)
  • cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

To help with itch relief, your doctor might also recommend self-care such as an oatmeal bath.

This treatment uses colloidal oatmeal that’s finely ground for easy mixing into warm bathwater. Colloidal oatmeal can moisturize skin and act as a emollient. With the help of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it can also soothe and protect skin.

Along with the powers of oatmeal, soaking in a warm bath can help you deal with stress which can cause for hives in some people.

  1. Fill a clean bathtub with warm water. Be sure the water isn’t hot since temperature extremes can make hives worse.
  2. Pour about 1 cup colloidal oatmeal under the stream of water coming from the faucet — this helps mix the oatmeal into the water. The amount you add may change depending on the size of your tub.
  3. Once the tub is at your desired level, give the water a quick stir to mix in all the oatmeal. The water should look milky and have a silky feel.

Your doctor will have a recommended length of time you should stay in the bath.

When getting into and out of the tub, keep in mind that the colloidal oats can make the tub exceptionally slippery.

When you’re done, use a soft towel to blot and pat yourself dry — rubbing can further irritate your sensitive skin.

Colloidal oatmeal is available at most drugstores, pharmacies, and online. You can also make your own colloidal oatmeal by using a blender or food processor to grind regular oatmeal into a very fine powder.

Some advocates of natural healing suggest that adding other ingredients to an oatmeal bath will improve the experience and suggest including:

These benefits of these additions aren’t backed by research or clinical studies, so check with your doctor before changing the recipe for a standard oatmeal bath. Extra ingredients could aggravate your condition.

When experiencing the itchiness of hives, many people find relief by soaking in a colloidal oatmeal bath. Before trying this approach for itch relief, check with your doctor to make sure that the colloidal oats will help and not aggravate your condition.

If your doctor approves, you can buy colloidal oatmeal or you can easily make it yourself.