Treating hives in children

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Hives is a common condition among children. It is characterized by red, itchy and white raised welt or bumps on the skin. Hives are not contagious and can last for a few hours to days but if it becomes severe, it can last for weeks.

Hives happen when the body releases histamine in reaction to allergy, heat, changes in temperature, infections and anxiety. Hives can be accompanied by angioema which causes swelling around the lips, eyes, feet, hands and throat.

Causes of hives

  • Insect bites
  • Animal dander especially from cats
  • Reaction to medications
    Swelling on the surface of the skin into red or skin-colored welts called wheals with edges.
  • Pollen
  • Food allergy on egg, shellfish, fish, nuts and milk
  • Severe exposure to cold and heat
  • Conditions such as lupus, autoimmune diseases and leukemia
  • Performing exercises
  • Infections such as mononucleosis


  • Swelling on the surface of the skin into red or skin-colored welts called wheals with edges.
  • Itching of the area
  • Wheals that becomes bigger, spread and stick together to form a large flat and raised skin.
  • Wheals can change shape, disappear and reappear in minutes or hours. They can be as big as a dinner plate and can sting, itch along with a burning sensation. The center of the wheals turn white when pressed.
  • If the person has angioedema, there is swelling, puffiness or large bumps around the lips, eyes, feet, hands, genitals and throat. When it becomes severe, there is difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, dizziness and loss of consciousness.


  • Wash the affected area using soap and water to relieve the hives and prevent them from becoming worse.
  • Take a cool bath to lessen the itchiness, inflammation, redness and soothe irritated skin. If the hives are all over the body, add colloidal oatmeal and let the child soak his/her body for at least 10-15 minutes to further soothe the skin. Another alternative is sprinkle the water with baking.
  • Apply an over-the-counter calamine lotion or anti-itch cream to lessen itching and inflammation. Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream once per day after a bath to relieve itchiness of the area.
  • Apply a cold compress on the area for at least 10-15 minutes once every 2 hours to lessen inflammation and itching. Avoid applying ice directly on the skin to prevent further damage. Wrap the ice pack using a towel or a piece of cloth before placing on the area.
  • Prevent the child from scratching the affected area as much as possible to prevent spreading the allergen and worsen the symptoms.
  • Protect the skin of the child by letting him/her wear cool, loose and smooth textured clothing such as cotton or merino wool to prevent sweating and worsen the condition. Another alternative is applying a bug repellant on areas that are not yet affected by hives to prevent insects from getting near the body of the child and cause further irritation.

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