Updated 18 October 2019

Tips for treating hives in children

Hives are usually not a cause for concern but they can be unpleasant, especially for children. Follow these top dermatologist tips for managing hives in kids.

If your child develops an itchy rash, it could be hives, experts say.

Common symptoms of hives - which are usually temporary and harmless - include: slightly raised, pink or red areas on the skin; welts that occur alone, in a group, or that connect over a large area; and skin swelling, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Hives can be triggered by a wide variety of things, including allergic reactions to food or medication, infections, exercise, stress, cold temperatures, insect bites and stings, pollen, sun exposure and scratching the skin.

"The best remedy for hives is to try to avoid whatever triggers them, although identifying this is often difficult," Dr. Bruce Brod, a clinical professor of dermatology at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said in an AAD news release.

"One way to help identify your triggers is to keep a log of your child's symptoms, including the day and time the hives occur and how long they last. You should also pay attention to any changes to your child's regular environment that may be contributing to the problem, such as dust, animals or the outdoors," Brod said.

There are a number of things you can do if your child develops hives: 

An over-the-counter oral antihistamine for children will help relieve the itch and discomfort, and applying a cool face cloth to the affected area might provide additional relief.

Try to prevent your child from scratching the hives, as doing so will worsen the rash. Keep your child's fingernails short and apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream with pramoxine or menthol, Brod suggested.

Other treatments include a bath in lukewarm water (no more than 10 minutes), followed by pat drying with a towel and then applying a gentle moisturising cream or lotion. Your child should wear loose-fitting clothes that are 100-percent cotton.

"If your child's hives seem to worsen or your child is experiencing more serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or vomiting, go to the emergency room immediately, as these symptoms can be more serious or even life-threatening," Brod said.

Read more:

Asthma drug may be the solution to chronic hives

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Image: Urticaria from Shutterstock


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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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