How to Treat Hives (Uticaria)

Hives or uticaria is characterized by the mild swelling and redness of the skin. Uticaria is commonly caused due to stress, anxiety, allergic reactions and side effects of certain medication. The condition and its symptoms usually resolve within 48 to 72 hours.

Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. To learn to manage hives and other allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) enrol in St Mark James first aid training.

Risk factors

  • Allergies
  • Excessive stress
  • Blood transfusionhives
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Medications
  • Insect bites and stings

Causes

  • Allergies
  • Food allergy
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Exposure to cold
  • Exposure to heat
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Insect bites
  • Bee sting
  • Side effects of drugs and medication
  • Reaction to blood transfusion

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of uticaria include:

  • Rash: hives and welts
  • Slightly raised pink patches on the skin
  • Rashes may spread rapidly
  • Rashes may occur in batches
  • Rashes usually being on the limbs or face
  • Redness of the skin:
    • Facial redness such as ear redness
    • Neck redness
    • Arm redness
    • Elbow redness
    • Hand redness
    • Finger redness
    • Wrist redness
    • Knee redness
    • Hip redness
    • Leg redness
    • Ankle redness
    • Foot redness
    • Toe redness
    • Chest redness
    • Back redness
    • Itching – scalp itching

Symptoms of allergic reactions that may cause or may accompany urticaria include:

  • Hoarse voice
  • Runny noise
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Facial swelling: Lip swelling, mouth swelling, tongue swelling and eye swelling
  • Rapid pulse
  • Diarrhea
  • Faintness
  • Unconscious

When to seek medical attention

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following problems occur:

  • The rash radiates to more than quarter of your body
  • You have difficulty breathing
  • You are suffering from wheezing
  • You are having difficulty swallowing food
  • You are experiencing facial swelling and/or mouth and tongue swelling
  • You are feeling faint
  • Your voice has become hoarse due to the condition
  • Large blisters  and weeping sores are appearing on the skin
  • Skin redness and pain is persistent and worsening

Treatment

Call a doctor if your child is suffering from hives, if you have any concerns about the condition, if home treatment is not helping or if you or your child is suffering from severe symptoms mentioned above.

Follow these treatment steps to relieve symptoms of hives:

1. Take antihistamines under your doctor’s consent

Antihistamines may reduce swelling and itching. Before giving your child any antihistamines, seek guidance from your paediatrician first.

2. Remove allergens and triggers

  • If the allergic reaction, rash or hives affect only a single region of the body, there might be a foreign object that triggered the allergic reaction to occur in the skin. Wash your body with soap and water
  • Change your clothes

3. Control itching

  • Use calamine lotion to reduce itching
  • Baking soda mixed with water may also be applied to reduce itching
  • Take a cool bath for 10 minutes
  • Place a cool compress on the affected areas of the skin

If symptoms do not improve or get worse, seek medical help.

 Prevention of hives

  • Familiarize yourself with the allergen and avoid exposure to the substance
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, ties and belts
  • Keep yourself cool. Wear loose fitting, light clothes, preferably cotton clothes
  • Avoid applying antibiotic creams on the skin
  • Avoid taking hot showers and baths

Learn More

Learn more about hives and other medical emergencies by taking St Mark James programs (sign up here). We are partnered with the most credible providers in Canada.

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