Hives are painful. Hives are common. Though sometimes they have a clear cause, often the real cause of hives cannot be tracked, even by painful allergy tests.
Since August of this year I’ve been daily attacked by hives, especially at night when dozens of welts erupt all over my body. At first I did nothing. Then I tried cream after ointment after cream before going the classic route and picking up a bottle of plain calamine lotion from Rite Aid. But that lotion is very runny and without anyone available to apply it to my back, I’ve been suffering. That is when a friend suggested I try Aveeno’s Anti-Itch concentrated lotion which is creamy and easy to apply.
This lotion costs around $12 for only 4 ounces — per ounce more than double the cost of the store brand calamine. So I had high expectations for it.
To my shock however it does not work — at least not compared to the calamine lotion from the drug store. This despite the known benefits to the skin of its oat complex and the excellent reputation of the Aveno problem.
A look at the fine print however is revealing. Because when you strip aside the brand image and look only at active ingredients the answer becomes obvious: it only contains 3% calamine and 1% pramoxine. That means the lotion relies mostly on the oat complex the brand is famous for instead of the calamine solution that families have used for decades to successfully address skin diseases and conditions.
By contrast the Rite-Aid calamine lotion contains 8% calamine and 8% zinc oxide, both of them tried and true ingredients for healing and soothing the skin. Though runny and a bit inconvenient to use, the lotion works — reducing pain and deterring scratching so the skin can heal.
And when that fails another very simple remedy helps me with the pain and swelling: ICE PACK.