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Hives: Brief Version

What are hives?

Your child has hives when:

  • Your child has itchy, raised pink spots with pale centers. They often look like mosquito bites. They may be different sizes and shapes.
  • The spots change size and shape. They may move from one area on the body to another.

Your child may get hives if he has an infection. Your child may be allergic to a food, medicine or to bee stings. This can cause the hives. Hives do not spread to other people. They come and go for a few days and then go away.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Give your child antihistamine medicine. This medicine won't cure the hives, but it will help the itching and reduce the number of hives. Benadryl is approved over age 1 for allergic symptoms. Use the drug recommended by your child's doctor.

    Be sure to keep giving the medicine until you are sure the hives are completely gone for 12 hours. Otherwise your child may get itchy again.

  • Make sure your child stays away from anything you think may have caused the hives.
  • Have your child take a cool bath or shower, if the hives were caused by pollen or animals. Don't use really hot water or rub your child's skin. That can make hives worse.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • It gets hard for your child to breathe or swallow.
  • Your child starts to act very sick.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • The hives last more than 1 week.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2018.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2015-06-11
Last reviewed: 2017-06-05
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2018 Barton D. Schmitt, MD FAAP. All rights reserved.
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