Hives are red or inflamed bumps or welts that appear on the skin. The rash is usually itchy and sometimes feels like it's stinging or burning. Also known as urticaria, hives often appear due to a reaction to a substance that causes allergies (referred to as allergens). In terms of appearance, hives can appear anywhere on the body and can look like tiny little spots, blotches, or large connected bumps; 'wheals' are typically round or oval and can get bigger, spread, and join together to form larger areas of flat, raised skin. It can occur in both adults and children. People who are known to have allergies are more likely to get hives.
The usual treatment method is to take antihistamine tablets to calm the inflammation. However, in holistic medicine, it is believed skin ailments such as hives originate from a root cause. A holistic practitioner will often test or try various methods to ascertain what is causing an outbreak of symptoms. The good news is there are plenty of ways to improve or possibly eradicate symptoms altogether with natural medicine, including proper nutrition, supplementation and herbs. Please see a doctor if you experience any of the following additional symptoms:
• Tightness in your chest or throat
• If your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
These indicate a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and require immediate medical attention.
When triggered by an allergen, the body will release high levels of histamine and other chemicals to be released in your skin.
Acute hives: acute hives account for most cases of hives and tend to not last beyond a few days to one week or two.
Chronic hives are welts that last for more than six weeks and return often over months or years.
Infections can cause hives in some people. Viral infections cause more than 80% of all cases of acute hives in children.
Common allergens include:
Chronic hives may be a symptom of an underlying health problem, such as:
Quercetin Nettle Complex – The main natural sources of quercetin are foods such as onions, and broccoli; fruits (apples, berries, and grapes); some herbs; tea; and wine. It has been seen to calm an over-reactive immune system via various different pathways [i]. Likewise nettle has been shown to have calming properties[ii].
Z Gel - All Purpose Healing Gel - Z-Gel all purpose soothing gel is an all-purpose soothing topical gel made from a synergistic blend of organic plant extracts. It is well known for its ability to soothe many ailments of the skin.
Cleanse Tea (20 sachets) – Made with organic aloe vera, dandelion, fennel, liquorice, nettle and peppermint, cleanse tea is a refreshing blend to help rejuvenate and support the liver. Good liver health supports healthy skin[iii] [iv].
Aloe Vera - Try Aloe Vera Gel (200ml)
Try adopting stress management techniques such as breathwork, deep breathing, meditation or journalling[i].
Oatmeal can reduce inflammation when applied in creams or in a compress. Oats are naturally high salicylic acid[ii].
Acupuncture can reduce symptoms [iii].
Other supplement recommendations include vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D and fish oil[iv].
Intestinal Permeability Profile - this is a great option to check the health of the gut lining. This test looks at zonulin. Zonulin is a protein that is synthesized in intestinal cells and liver cells, it is used as a marker for intestinal permeability. Increased intestinal permeability is a likely cause of various illnesses, such as allergies[v].
Food Sensitivity Test (Dietary Antigen Test) - Intolerances are very much a different immune marker response than allergies, which can develop and change over time. Both intolerances and allergies may be involved in a hives flare[vi].
As part of our nutrition consultations, we will aim to get to the root cause of symptoms. Gut health will be addressed; thyroid, inflammatory, and micronutrient markers may also be tested.
Dietary recommendations that you may explore with a practitioner include:
• Removal or avoidance of any identified environmental trigger (ie. Dust mites or pollen).
• Removal or avoidance of any identified food allergies or sensitivities
• Implementation of a therapeutic diet:
• Standard elimination diet
• Low-histamine diet
• Low-Salicylate/low-Tyramine diet
Hives and rashes are not the same. Hives are a type of rash, but not every rash is caused by hives. Hives present as red or flesh-toned bumps that can change in size, shape, and colour. Whereas rashes appear mainly red in appearance. However, differentiating these conditions can sometimes be difficult for the untrained eye. Other diseases which may be misdiagnosed as hives include:
If your symptoms are severe or chronic, or causing concern, please notify your GP.
 Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules. 2016 May 12;21(5):623
 Bhusal KK, Magar SK, Thapa R, Lamsal A, Bhandari S, Maharjan R, Shrestha S, Shrestha J. Nutritional and pharmacological importance of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.): A review. Heliyon. 2022 Jun 22;8(6):e09717.
 Mahmud MR, Akter S, Tamanna SK, Mazumder L, Esti IZ, Banerjee S, Akter S, Hasan MR, Acharjee M, Hossain MS, Pirttilä AM. Impact of gut microbiome on skin health: gut-skin axis observed through the lenses of therapeutics and skin diseases. Gut Microbes. 2022 Jan-Dec;14(1):2096995.
 Olas B. New Perspectives on the Effect of Dandelion, Its Food Products and Other Preparations on the Cardiovascular System and Its Diseases. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 24;14(7):1350.
 Hives (no date) Stress Hives | Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of a Stress Rash. Available at: http://www.hives.org/stress-hi... (Accessed: October 19, 2022).
 Hives and angioedema (2022) Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (Accessed: October 19, 2022).
 Treating hives with acupuncture (no date) Treating Hives with Acupuncture - Acufinder.com. (Accessed: October 19, 2022).
 Chronic hives (2022) Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (Accessed: October 19, 2022).
 Rapin JR, Wiernsperger N. Possible links between intestinal permeability and food processing: A potential therapeutic niche for glutamine. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2010 Jun;65(6):635-43.
 Macy E. Practical Management of New-Onset Urticaria and Angioedema Presenting in Primary Care, Urgent Care, and the Emergency Department. Perm J. 2021 Nov 22;25:21.058.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.