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Hives Symptoms and Treatment

What Causes Hives?

Hives is a rash characterized by raised bumps on the skin and intense itching. They occur when cells in the skin release a chemical, called histamine, in response to some trigger. Hives are common and can be caused by foods, medications (especially antibiotics), and allergens (house dust and pollen). Other causes include infections, extreme cold or heat, soaps or chemicals, pressure on the skin, hormones, and emotional stress. If the rash is limited to a small area on the body, it can be caused by skin contact with jewelry, plants, food, or saliva from pets.

Symptoms and Signs of Hives

Usually, the only symptom of hives is a rash, when the skin swells with bumps that are sometimes red. The rash usually moves around on the body and can appear and disappear quickly over time. Typically, the rash is accompanied by intense itching. When there are a lot of hives all over the body, a fever may appear, along with more serious allergic reactions such as simultaneous swelling around the eyes and mouth. Hives may also be part of a more severe systemic reaction or severe allergic reaction, and it can affect the respiratory tract, which leads to difficulty breathing and swallowing.

How to Prevent Hives

If you are able to identify the cause of the hives, you should try to keep your child away from it. Common foods that can produce hives are strawberries, shellfish, milk, and nuts.

Treatment for Hives

Hives are not dangerous and can go away on their own without treatment, but you can also treat it by:

  • Giving an over-the-counter antihistamine medication (such as Children's Benadryl) regularly for the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • Applying cool compresses and giving your child a cool bath to relieve the itching.

Contact 911 or your doctor immediately if the rash:

  • Causes difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Occurs with symptoms of fever, coughing, or sore throat
  • Has not disappeared within a few days and lasts for longer than a week

Copyright ? 2012 Meredith Corporation.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.