Non-prescription itch relief options for hives include cold compresses and topical preparations containing 1 percent menthol in a water-based cream. Prescription treatments include oral steroids and antihistamines, according to WebMD.
Approximately 20 percent of the population experience hives. For most sufferers, the condition is the result of an allergy to a drug or food and clears up in a short period of time, reports WebMD.
About 1 percent of people experience frequently recurring hives, known as chronic idiopathic urticaria. The cause of these hives is typically unknown, with an episode lasting a day or less, followed by a new outbreak of hives. Some people develop chronic hives in conjunction with cancer, hormone issues or thyroid conditions. Most sufferers of chronic idiopathic urticaria see a remission of symptoms within one to five years. A very few individuals experience the condition for a longer period of time.
A variety of common exposures can spark hives, such as exercise, tight clothing, heat, cold, non-steroidal drugs and alcohol consumption. An important component of self-care for hives is to keep the skin moist to reduce itching, states WebMD. Suggested measures to increase moisture include limiting shower and bath time to 10 minutes or less, using a mild soap and moderate water temperatures, applying moisturizers immediately after bathing, and running a humidifier.
No cure for hives currently exists, notes WebMD. Medication, life-style changes, and simple self-care measures can decrease discomfort and make the condition easier to bear.