How to recognize and treat hives in your child

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If your child suffers from an allergic reaction, such as hives, it's normal to feel scared. But diagnosing...

If your child suffers from an allergic reaction, such as hives, it's normal to feel scared. But diagnosing and treating the reaction can be simple with these tips. If hives are the only symptom of allergic reaction in your child, then it is possible that the reaction is relatively harmless; however, if the reaction is accompanied by breathing difficulty or swelling of the mouth or throat, the child may be experiencing anaphylaxis, a more severe and potentially life-threatening reaction. If this is the case, seek help from an Atlanta health care practitioner immediately.

Recognizing hives

You can recognize hives, also known as urticaria, from several symptoms and characteristics:

  • Red or pink raised welts on the skin
  • Itchiness
  • Welts range in size from a few centimeters across to larger than a half-dollar
  • Welts can merge together to form larger patches
  • Usually temporary lasting no longer than 24 hours
  • May leave one part of the body while cropping up elsewhere during the same outbreak
  • Rarely, there is pain, stinging or bruises

Treating hive outbreaks

Since urticaria are caused by histamines, the allergic reaction can be treated by antihistamines, such as the sedating antihistamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl). If urticaria are a long-term problem, such as an allergic reaction spanning more than six weeks, consult a pediatrician about non-sedating antihistamines, such as Allegra, Claritin or Zyrtec. Rarely, with more severe urticaria, children may require steroid intervention at the advice of a pediatrician.

The most important way to treat urticaria, however, is to remove the allergen. With young children, pediatricians advise introducing new foods one at a time with a three-day lag before adding another food. This way it's possible to identify the allergen and remove it from the child's diet. If the source of the urticaria is unknown, a pediatrician may suggest an elimination diet or run allergy skin testing.

For more information on hives on children, consult an Atlanta pediatrician, pediatric allergist or pediatric dermatologist.


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