The other night, my friend called me regarding her daughter who had a strange rash, hives we determined. What she didn’t understand was, though her daughter had the rash the night before, it had cleared up during the day, but was back that evening. I did tell her that it’s not unusual for rashes and hives, even insect bites to be fine during the day, but resurface or flare up at night. Though I knew that, I had no idea why, and curiosity got the best of me.
Hives are raised skin irritations that resemble mosquito bites, but can be much larger. They usually appear in groups, most frequently on arms, legs, back and torso, and can disappear as quickly as they come on. For some, however, they become chronic (lasting months or more) and as we’ve said, are usually worse at night. Obviously, this can become a very uncomfortable and frustrating situation; it’s important to understand why they are worse at night.
The body actually produces its own anti-itch chemicals which help us out with relieving all types of rashes, stings and hives. Often, this chemical provides enough relief for us; sometimes we need to help it along with an antihistamine like Benadryl or Chlortrimeton. As the sun goes down and our body prepares for sleep, however, this chemical in our body decreases. It is very common, like my friend’s daughter, for the rash to worsen at night and then disappear completely during the day. This is also why your insect bites itch more at night.
So we have the why, but what to do? Trying to sleep with a body full of itchy hives is not only hard to do, but while sleeping, many people scratch the rash unknowingly, making it worse. There are several recommendations of treatment worth trying.
Taking an oral antihistamine will not only relieve some of the itchiness, but also help with sleep. Benadryl and Chlortrimeton are the most often recommended (Benadryl is my particular drug of choice). Another non-medicative option to try is a cool shower or bath before bed, but not hot because that will exacerbate the hives. You can also add an oatmeal bath to your water, like Aveeno. Oatmeal baths are also a good option for babies and young children if you are opposed to medicating at a young age; it’s also a relaxing alternative.
Another suggestion is increasing your water intake throughout the day to help your body flush out the hive causing toxin. You can also try rooibos tea as it contains quercetin, a natural antihistamine, and it will simultaneously aid in the cleansing of your body.
Hives are not only uncomfortable, but also frustrating due to their mysterious nature. If you can’t find the cause, at least perhaps you can alleviate some of the nighttime itchiness. Here’s to a good night’s sleep.
- Heather Legg