Treatment

If your symptoms are mild, you may not need treatment. Many cases of hives and angioedema clear up on their own. But treatment can offer relief for intense itching, serious discomfort or symptoms that persist.

Medications

Treatments for hives and angioedema may include prescription drugs, including:

  • Anti-itch drugs. The standard treatment for hives and angioedema is antihistamines, medications that reduce itching, swelling and other allergy symptoms.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs. For severe hives or angioedema, doctors may sometimes prescribe an oral corticosteroid drug — such as prednisone — to reduce swelling, redness and itching.
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system. If antihistamines and corticosteroids are ineffective, your doctor might prescribe a drug capable of calming an overactive immune system.
  • Drugs that reduce pain and swelling. Chronic hives and angioedema may be treated with a type of nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medication called leukotriene antagonists.
  • Blood protein controllers. If you have hereditary angioedema, a variety of medications can regulate levels of certain blood proteins and relieve your signs and symptoms.

Emergency situations

For a severe attack of hives or angioedema, you may need a trip to the emergency room and an emergency injection of epinephrine — a type of adrenaline. If you have had a serious attack or your attacks recur, despite treatment, your doctor may have you carry a pen-like device that will allow you to self-inject epinephrine in emergencies.