Q. My son, age 14, has suffered from chronic idiopathic urticaria (hives) for five years. Several months ago, your column featured another person suffering from hives. He had success with vitamin C so we decided to try it.

My son is now taking 1000 mg of vitamin C twice a day. He has been able to stop two of his three medications, Zyrtec and famotidine. With his doctor’s approval, he has halved his Allegra prescription. We are so thankful!

A. We found nothing recent in the medical literature on this approach. Some research five or six decades ago suggested that vitamin C might dampen allergic reactions, but it has not been confirmed.

We are pleased to learn that your son’s hives have responded so well to this approach. Please make sure his doctor is aware of his continued use of high doses of vitamin C.

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  1. djf

    I started having hives a month and half ago and the Doctor told me I have urticaria. I researched a book called prescription for nutritional healing that I had at home after trying zyrtec and Claritin which the hives came back once I stop taking them. Who wants to take medicine for the rest of their lives. It stated vitamin C. Vitamin C works well because it works as an anti inflammatory aid and is good for the skin. I noticed when I took it seems to work and I am now on my sixth day. Citrus fruit is an allergen of mine and I figured that out so it helps to take the vitamin C.

  2. Darla

    If you have chronic hives and are a woman over 60 PLEASE have your doctor run a blood test for excess calcium in your blood. It should be around 9. If it is high (mine was 11), you might have a parathyroid (you have 4 of these glands) tumor. While rarely (something like 1 in 500) cancerous, these tumors can cause breast cancer, osteoporosis, kidney failure and eventually (in 15-20 years) death. And the doctors will tell you to wait and “watch it.”

    Fortunately, chronic hives saved my life. After 3 visits for steroids and two doctors someone finally looked at the original blood test and saw the calcium level. Dr. told me to just wait and watch it but kidney tests showed my kidneys were in terrible shape. Because I did my research and advocated for myself, I got the surgery right away. It took three weeks but my kidneys have bounced back. Bones are somewhat damaged and waiting on mammogram results. The allergist said the hives were caused by the tumor. Sure enough, I woke up in recovery without them.

    Again, if you are over 60 with chronic hives please check the calcium level in your blood and get the tumor out! Go to an endocrinologist. They are the only doctors with any kind of understanding about this. Your hives are trying to tell you something is wrong. Listen to them.

  3. C.P. Mudde

    I am going into my third month of urticaria have done all the allergy tests @ a dermetologist , who has suggested benedryl or any other antihistamine, and has given me some menthol salve which works very well for a few hours, however as we all know, the welts/weals simply pop up in a different place
    I start my day off with a cool shower using Aveeno, after which I dap my sores with the menthol ointment, then during the day, especially being outdoors, it does not seem as bad (itching) it is going to sleep, and knowing that when I wake up first thing I do is look and see where they are todya I am considering healing of any sort, since obviously there is little help out there in the medical world, has anyone tried spiritual or any sort of healing, would love to have your comments
    Thank you!

  4. JM

    I have had chronic urticaria with dysgraphia for over a decade or more and was initially treated with steroids (plus intermittently when I had a breakthrough bout of itching) and then was placed for the rest of my life, I guess, on Zyrtec and Zantac to obtain 100% antihistamine coverage. It worked for the most part, but I worried about never going off them.
    Some years later, I happened upon a blog where everyone discussed their horrible nightmares, often bloody and murderous, while taking Zyrtec. This was my experience, too, and I couldn’t believe that others were describing the same types of dreams. I had been embarrassed about the content of my dreams and hadn’t connected them with Zyrtec. I weaned myself very, very gradually off the Zyrtec, taking a few weeks as severe rebounding had been reported, and switched to generic Claritan. It’s not as effective as Zyrtec for the itching, but the dreams stopped like magic. I still have vivid dreams, as that is typical for me, but they aren’t violent now.
    A few months ago, I started taking 500 mg of Vitamin C daily on the recommendation of a pharmacist instead of the Mucinex (which kept me awake) that I took on the advice of my allergist for occasional sinus flare-ups. It has worked. I wonder if I increase my dosage to 1000 mg, I could succeed in discontinuing the antihistamines?

    • Rebekah

      I take 4000mg of vitamin c and d3… I also drink 5 16.9 oz bottles of water each day and i put 30 to 40 ph drops in each bottle… This made my hives gone by like 95%.. However, i got the Xolair shot in hopes that i could get off the antihistamines n just not have this issue anymore.. But 44 hours after the shot i broke out bad… Now i have this stufg in my body n have no idea when it gets outta my system…

  5. Novilene

    Thank for sharing your experiences, guys! I watched a video today about vit c high doses will cure urticaria. My husband is suffering urticaria for almost 5 weeks now and he cannot sleep at night time and he needs to go to work on day time! good thing we never tried steroids but we did our research so now we will try to give him high dose of vit c and quercetin as well… praying that this will be the answer. natural way is always the best way to heal our body.

  6. Mitesh

    So in essence even if the requirement of thyroid in the body is low to keep hives away one might need to take higher dosages of thyroid. Will there be any harm if this approach is continued for longer time.

  7. Grace

    I suffered from severe chronic hives too, no antihistamine medications worked with me. It seems it has just worsen my hives. I then tried taking 1000 mg of Vit. C it works so good with me, with out any side effects. During the occurrence of hives I take Vit. C 1000mg 4x times a day until it’s gone. Then I just take 1x a day and it makes me hives free.

  8. HiveyJess

    I just wanted to give everyone an update since my last posting in 2010…
    The vitamin C continues to work and my hives are pretty much non-existent.
    Some things still irritate me (ibuprofen – which I was taking a lot of when I had hives thinking an anti-inflamatory would help but it was making it worse) … but I just avoid those things and, for the most part, the hives are gone.
    I still take the same brand vitamin c mentioned in previous post and pray they never stop making it. My husband takes it too for sinuses. (After being impressed with the vitamin c, we both now take other vitamins made but the same manufacturer.) This last season, neither one of us caught the flu. I am not saying this will cure you, but it sure the heck won’t hurt you and incorporating it into your search for the cause and other measures may speed recovery.
    Just wanted to pass along my success (really, good-luck) story and hopes it gives others some hope. The (quality) vitamin C really does have a long-term beneficial affect.
    Good luck & positive vibes!

  9. K.C.

    I recently read this article and have been suffering with chronic hives for the last 8 years. Your stories are all so similar to mine, no relief, swelling itching, etc. About a week ago, I started to take a vitamin C and vitamin D supplement and am amazed with the results. I shared with my allergist this morning and he was surprised as well. Keep spreading the word!!!

    • C

      Thank you for this information. I have been dealing with urticaria (so the PA says) for 4 weeks now. The PA says for me to take Allegra and Zyrtec within the same 24 hour period. I never take meds, so I was concerned about taking them. I take natural remedies. I took myself off Zyrtec and the hives came back with a vengeance! I have read that you should not take Zyrtec because you will be on it for the rest of your life. I refuse to believe that and I am researching for something natural. I purchased Quercetin, Bromelain, Vitamin C – in a complex today. I am also going to increase my vitamin C to see how that works for me. I go to an allergist in a few weeks and will learn what I am allergic to — if anything. Thanks so much for your post. I hope the Vitamin C helps me, too.

  10. M. L.

    My husband is suffering from severe chronic hives. The Allegra is not working anymore. The Prednisone works but this medication is a steroid and terrible for your health in the long-run.
    We are trying desperately to search for a “natural” alternative before the prescriptions drugs bring on another health issue.
    Currently, he is documenting what he eats and has started an alkaline-based diet. (We purchased PH strips and found he had a high level of acid in his body.) Right now he is taking Quercetin and Bromelain but will also add Vitamin C. I pray to God this works so he can get off the prescription drugs!

  11. Deena

    I too have been suffering from hives, on and off for 2 years. Specialist said I may be prone to getting them if I have any infections ie, flu/colds etc. I also developed asthma 8 years ago and since I use inhalers really didn’t want to use any other medications. Normally the hives disappear in a few days without the use of meds. However, this past week the hives lingered and spread to feet, hands and back of the neck. Ice pack helped.
    I’ve been reading up like many others, and, green tea 3 times a day is a remedy also. Doctors usually cannot pinpoint the cause of hives, like others I too tried to figure it out and the detective work was frustrating. I’m trying the green tea as so many have said it has natural antihistamines just like the vitamin C. Hope this helps others.

  12. lori t.

    I’ve suffered w/ chronic hives for over 5 yrs. now and I’m just spent. I find it hard to believe that simply adding high doses of vit c can cure this, but I am desperate and anything is worth a try.
    Has anyone out there been diagnosed w/ eosinophilic esophagitis, a condition where eosinophils (fighter blood cells) grow in abundance and colonize in the esophagus)? I have been and believe it is directly related to the hives outbreaks, but my gastroenterologist does not believe there is a correlation!
    Any comments would be appreciated!

  13. Kathy N.

    I have been suffering from hives for a year now after doing chemo and radiation for breast cancer. Spent tons of money on doctors for help with no answers. In the last week I upped my doses of vitamin C and omega 3 and garlic. Something is working and I suspect the “C”. Finally something is happening and it could be as simple as good ‘ol vitamin C. I hope this helps someone else out there because hives aren’t fun. Thanks to all who take the time to leave comments. It helps!

  14. HiveyJess

    Vitamin C works. But not just any ole brand … It has to be a high quality.
    I started getting hives for no apparent reason 7 years ago. After years of zytrec – which certainly helped but did not cure – I asked my naturalpath doc – the only doc after 8 others who discovered I had developed food allergies and had put me on an elimination diet which got the hives under control – if there was a natural remedy. I felt like zytrec was making it hard to get up in the a.m.
    He put me on 900 mg three times a day of Integrative Therapeutics (brand) Vitamin C With Quercetin and it is the best thing that ever happened to me! My hives are now under control – meaning the difference between head to toe hives so just some on my hands if I don’t eat right or get stressed. I can now go in the sun – before it would trigger a full hive attack. It also treats my seasonal and cat allergies. (my husband takes it too for his). Strangely, my glasses prescription has gotten better in recent years. I get the flu less than I used too – once in last 4 years. I have my life back!
    I tried other brands vitamin C, but did not get same result. I order online. 20$ per bottle of 90 pills. I took 6 pills a day for years but have back off to 2 to 6 pills as I’ve gotten better. I will never be without this stuff and hope it helps someone else out there too!

  15. chey

    Hives after recovering from cancer
    by Chey
    I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2007. In 2009, my 2 year check up showed I was completely clear and my doctor even said I was cured.
    Some months later I developed a bladder infection and took Cipro after which I had hives all over my body for over a month at various times. They abated. This year I took Valtrex and the same thing happened. But worse. My body, feet and hands as well as my face which was was swollen and my eyes slammed shut. I imagined, like many other things, that it was a result of how my body changed due to chemotherapy, and now reacts to things. I never had an allergic reaction before.
    Not to bore you with how we got here, I started taking a multi vitamin which has 1000mg of vitamin C, and 2 additional vitamin C supplements. That was a week ago. Today I am taking 6000mg C a day and I have been hive free for three days!!! Okay, so I think it is worth a try.
    Signs and symptoms of scurvy – a vitamin C deficient disease – include rash, hives, heart problems, weakness etc. And most of us don’t really ingest that much C anymore. Plus, for me, after the chemo I think I needed a boost. But try the C and I truly hope it works for you!

  16. JS

    If you have thyroid issues, you might have a doctor check your blood for thyroid antibodies. Even if your thyroid level is in the normal range, if thyroid antibodies are present, you need to be at the high end of the normal thyroid range to keep hives at bay. A lot of people with thyroid issues get chronic hives. My mom’s flared up when her doctor reduced her thyroid dose.

  17. J U

    I have been suffering from chronic hives for 2 years now. No antihistamines completely stopped it and I became immune to them after a while anyway. And I was taking double the recommended daily dose. Well, after doing my own research, I decided to try to vitamin C in high doses. I will try anything because I am desperate, and it works!!
    Anyway with hives should DEFINITELY try this. You have nothing to lose and it must be much better for you than taking all those tablets. We need to spread the word too because more research needs to be done on this :)

  18. Ari

    I have had idiopathic angioedema and urticaria since I am 14, which has led to anaphylaxis countless times.
    I have been on so many medications and hospitalized so many times. One of the best combinations is Zyrtec and Zantac (which attack the two different histamine productions) to avoid swelling. Two pills of each twice per day.
    But I still get breakthrough hives or swelling especially if I have a cold or something. So I read about the buffered Vitamin C and figure it couldn’t be worse than taking tons of Benadryl and tried it during my last bout with face swelling the other day. I have to say I was surprised but it worked!

  19. abigail

    Many medications intended to control allergic reactions have, and even list, hives as a side effects . I had a long siege with hives until a doctor told me that Benadryl lotion/cream contains diphenhydramine which some people are sensitive to. Diphenhydramine was also in one of the oral medications i was taking. He put me on both hydroxyzine and allegra which solved the problem.

  20. PD

    Good to take vitamins but figure out what is causing the hives. Keep a daily record of what he is drinking, eating, with hive reaction. The Ingredient list will help you find the exact cause. Papaya was the trigger for my son. Little hug drinks and chik fil’a had it for my son.
    No more hives!

  21. BDH

    What are the dangers of taking too much Vitamin C? . . . and what is considered too much?

  22. CSF

    I found a cure for hives that had bothered me for over eight months. A relative recommended that I take Zyrtec and Pepsid AC and within 10 days the hives stopped appearing and I continued taking these over the counter drugs for two months and have not had a recurrence for over 5 years. It may be worth a try in your son’s case.

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