Hives: Treatment and Causes

What Are Hives?

Hives rashes usually settle down within a few minutes to a few days and you can often treat hives yourself without the need for a GP.

What do hives look like?

Hives can be different sizes and shapes and appear anywhere on the body in both adults and children.

The rash is often itchy and sometimes causes a stinging or burning sensation.

At the pharmacy

A pharmacist can give you advice about antihistamine tablets to help a hives rash.

Tell the pharmacist if you have a long-term condition as you might not be able to take antihistamines and they also may not be suitable for young children.

See a GP if:

·      The symptoms do not improve after 2 days

·      You’re worried about your child’s hives

·      The rash is spreading

·      Hives keeps coming back – you may be allergic to something

·      You also have a high temperature and feel generally unwell

·      You also have swelling under the skin – this might be angioedema

Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

·      You’re wheezing

·      You get tightness in your chest or throat

·      You have trouble breathing or talking

·      Your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling

You could be having a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and may need immediate treatment in hospital.

Treatment for hives from a GP

A GP may prescribe menthol cream, stronger antihistamines or steroid tablets.

If hives does not go away with treatment, you may be referred to a Dermatologist.

You cannot always prevent hives as hives occur when something causes high levels of histamine and other chemicals to be released in your skin, known as a trigger.

What causes hives?

Triggers can include:

·      Eating certain foods

·      Contact with certain plants, animals, chemicals or latex

·      Cold – such as cold water or wind

·      Hot, sweaty skin – from exercise, emotional stress or eating spicy food

·      A reaction to a medicine, insect bite or sting

·      Scratching or pressing on your skin – such as wearing itchy or tight clothing

·      An infection

·      A problem with your immune system

·      Water or sunlight but this is rare

Try to find out what triggers hives for you, so you can avoid those triggers. This may help prevent an episode of hives.