Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I do not even play a doctor or a nurse on the Internet. But I have been unlucky enough to suffer from poison ivy on N (N rounds up pretty high; it involves the number of fingers on both hands) occasions so I know a lot about suffering through itchiness. And I’ve had hives myself.

I recently watched a dear, dear friend come down with hives out of the clear blue. One day they were fine and the next day there were “an itchy, splotchy mess”. Hives are one of those things that generally are an allergic reaction that you never quite understand. They come over you, your life sucks beyond belief and then they go away. As another friend would say, “How Rude!”.

We ultimately figured out a good way to help deal with the itchiness but it took about a day so I thought I’d write down some tips and recommendations. I know this is not the sort of content I usually produce but it made at least one person’s life better so …

Managing Hives or Poison Ivy

Here are some techniques for managing hives or poison ivy:

  1. Cool water; never hot. Getting under a hot shower with an itchy condition actually feels good but it is a complete mistake. It seems to reactivate the underlying cause.
  2. Benedryl. If you’re looking for a medicine and don’t mind the associated drowsiness, Benedryl really does help.
  3. Colloidal Oatmeal Bath. If you have the ability to soak in a tub, a cool tub filled with the Aveeno Oatmeal works well. Or you can make your own.
  4. Spray Benadryl. This is a topical spray and while it makes you sticky, it provides solid relief.
  5. Gold Bond Ultimate Eczema Relief. This is a colloidal oatmeal lotion and it has specific ingredients (since its an eczema solution) to “deal with the itches”.
  6. Zanfel. I listed this last but it is ABSOLUTELY THE BEST THING EVER for hives or poison ivy. It is ridiculously expensive ($50 for a tube in downtown Chicago) but it is completely worth it. Follow the directions exactly and it provides fantastic relief.

Of the recommendations above, #6, Zanfel, is the best. You won’t want to spend the money but it really is worth it. #5 also comes very, very highly recommended.