Hives, also known as urticaria, are common, affecting about 20% of people at some point in their lives. If your child develops these raised itchy bumps, it’s normal to be concerned.
Hives are uncomfortable, itchy, and confounding, but they often disappear on their own.
If your child has chronic hives that happen every day (or almost every day) for a month or longer, it’s time to schedule a consultation with a professional like Dr. Margaret Lubega at First Pediatric Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina. She can help you and your child identify triggers so they can avoid outbreaks and get relief.
What do hives look like?
Hives can be maddeningly itchy or hot, or simply show up as a color change in your skin.
Hives can look like spots, blotches, lines, or pinpoint pricks. They may be red, white, pink, or skin-colored. Hives can develop anywhere, and they can be small or cover an entire area like the back or chest.
Hives blanch, meaning that when you press on a hive, the center of it turns white.
What causes hives?
Many things can cause hives. Some kids may have hives because of an allergic reaction. Others may find that exercise, medications, or insect bites trigger hives.
Here are some of the most common triggers for hives:
- Foods, particularly eggs, nuts, peanuts, and shellfish
- Heat or cold, including sun exposure
- Bacterial infections like strep throat
- Viral infections, including the common cold
- Pet dander
You may not be able to figure out the cause of your child’s hives immediately. Dr. Lubega recommends you keep track of their flare-ups to help you figure out what may be causing them. This hive journal includes what foods your child has eaten that day, their activities, and any special events.
Types of hives
Hives can either be short-lived or chronic. Short-lived hives show up on occasion and disappear on their own. They’re bothersome, but generally respond to relief from at-home treatments like cool compresses, over-the-counter anti-itch medications, and keeping your skin hydrated with a fragrance-free moisturizer. A single episode of hives generally doesn't need medical intervention.
Chronic hives occur almost daily for six weeks or longer. Episodes of hives typically last less than 24 hours, but are bothersome. If your child has hives that recur again and again for a month or longer, make an appointment at our office. Dr. Lubega can do a thorough physical exam and help you identify possible triggers. Your child may need to undergo allergy testing, too. Allergy testing may involve a skin test, urine test, or blood test.
Treatment for chronic hives
Chronic hives can go away on their own over time. The best way to avoid hives is to avoid a known trigger. It’s common to never find out your child’s trigger, however.
Treatment can be effective even when the cause of your child’s hives is unknown. Treatment can help clear up their skin and prevent further flare-ups. Dr. Lubega may prescribe a daily antihistamine. It’s helpful to check in in regularly to let us know how the medication is working. If it’s ineffective, Dr. Lubega may change the dosage or type of medication.
If your child has hives that recur and are particularly bothersome, call us at First Pediatric Care Center to get them evaluated. We want to help your child feel comfortable in their own skin.