Getting a hives outburst can be pretty annoying and scary at times, but luckily there is a great thing called an antihistamine medicine that can definitely help keep your hives at bay and help with the irritating itching and pain they bring. As we know, hives occur when a trigger in the form of food, insect bite, bacterial or viral infection, or some other, irritates the histamine located in the mast cells. When hives occur, you will most likely get a recommendation to simply avoid the trigger, or, if that’s impossible, treat them with usual home remedies, one of which is the everyday over-the-counter antihistamines.
Before we get into divulging what the best antihistamines for hives are, it is important to note that if you have a case of chronic hives or an inflamed thyroid, also called thyroiditis, it might be best to get treatment for that condition first, which will, if the treatment is successful, result in the complete disappearance of the hives.
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s move on to the best antihistamine remedies for hives available today.
New Forms of Antihistamines
There are many forms of antihistamine medicines including the simple over-the-counter ones as well as the prescription-only types. Antihistamines work by blocking the histamine chemical and they are pretty effective in the treatment of hives and have long-lasting effects. However, they do come with a set of side effects. The new forms of antihistamines are low-sedating or non-sedating, which is definitely something that your doctor may recommend.
These second-generation antihistamines have fewer side effects, and they do not cause drowsiness in comparison to the older generation of antihistamines. Some of the most popular choices are Cetirizine, Loratadine, Fexofenadine, Levocetirizine, and Desloratadine.
Cetirizine is a second-generation antihistamine used in the treatment of hives, as well as various allergies, hay fever, and angioedema. It has fewer effects on the central nervous system and it is less likely to cause issues with memory formation and drowsiness. Nowadays, it is available over-the-counter in US, Canada, and most of the world, and it is available without prescription in generic forms. Common brand name: Zyrtec.
Loratadine is a second-generation antihistamine used to treat hives and other allergies. It was discovered in 1981 and is on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines. Loratadine is actually available as a generic drug and can be used to treat hay fever and chronic idiopathic hives as well. It can be found in a syrup, tablet, and oral suspension form, as well as in the form of quick-dissolving tablets. It falls in the category of nonsedating antihistamines, although it can cause headaches and urinary retention, as well as dry mouth and blurred vision, just like Cetirizine. Brand names: Claritin, Alavert.
Fexofenadine is an antihistamine used in the treatment of the hives, hay fever, as well as other nasal congestion troubles. It has been called a third-generation antihistamine, although it does fall into the category of a second-generation antihistamine. It has been manufactured in a generic drug form since 2011 and should be taken twice a day in a 60mg form, or once in 120mg form. Brand names: Allegra, Telfast, Fexidine, Tilfur, Telfexo, Fastofen, Vifas, Allerfexo, Flexofen.
Levocetirizine is a third-generation non-sedative antihistamine, developed from cetirizine. It works by decreasing the activity of histamine H1 receptors, which helps with the prevention of allergy chemicals which results in the relief of allergy symptoms. It has fewer side-effects than usual second-generation antihistamines, and there’s evidence that suggests that it may be more effective than other second and third generation antihistamines. Brand names: Xyzal, Levazyr
Desloratadine is an antihistamine used in the treatment of hives and allergies. It is available in various forms and under various trade names around the world. It does not cause drowsiness and has a long-lasting effect. It is chemically similar to loratadine. Brand name: Clarinex
Older Forms of Antihistamines
In some cases, second and third-generation antihistamines do not work. In those situations, your physician may prescribe an older form of antihistamines, also known as first-generation antihistamines. These medications are relatively inexpensive and available worldwide. Their effect on suppressing the allergic reactions is good, but they have quite a few side effects. One of the main indications is drowsiness, thus your doctor will probably recommend you taking these medications before bedtime to avoid the energy drop. The most popular forms of first-generation antihistamines are Hydroxyzine (brand name: Vistaril), Diphenhydramine (brand name: Benadryl), and Chlorpheniramine (brand name: Chlor-Trimeton).