Hives in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Hives are raised, red, itchy patches of skin. They are also called wheals or welts. They usually have red borders and pale centres. Hives range in size from ½ centimetre to 7 centimetres or more across. They may seem to move from place to place on the skin. Several hives may form a large area of raised, red skin.

Your child can get hives after an insect sting, after taking medicine or eating certain foods, or because of infection or stress. Other causes include plants, things you breathe in, makeup, heat, cold, sunlight, and latex.

Your child cannot spread hives to other people. Hives may last a few minutes or a few days, but a single spot may last less than 36 hours.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child avoid whatever you think may have caused the hives, such as a certain food or medicine. However, you may not know the cause.
  • Put a cool, wet towel on the area to relieve itching.
  • After checking with the doctor first, give your child an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin), to help stop the hives and calm the itching. Read and follow directions on the label.
  • Keep your child away from strong soaps, detergents, and chemicals. These can make itching worse.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over his or her body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Belly pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Your child gets hives after starting a new medicine.
  • Hives have not gone away after 24 hours.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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