What is chronic hives?

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Chronic hives in children: Overview

Chronic hives are long-lasting raised, red, and itchy patches of skin. Hives usually have red borders and pale centers. They range in size from ¼ inch to 3 inches or more across. They may seem to move from place to place on the skin. Several hives may join to form a large area of raised, red skin.

When hives and swelling last more than 6 weeks even with treatment, they are called chronic.

Hives may occur with swelling under the skin. But your child may have swelling without hives. Swelling may hurt a bit, but it does not usually itch like hives.

Your child cannot spread hives to other people.

How can you care for yourself when you have chronic hives?

  • Avoid whatever you think may have caused your hives, such as a certain food or medicine. But you may not know the cause.
  • Put a cool, wet towel on the area to relieve itching.
  • Your doctor may suggest a nondrowsy antihistamine, such as loratadine (Claritin), to help control the hives. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine to carry with you in case you have a severe reaction. Learn how to give yourself the shot, and keep it with you at all times. Make sure it has not expired.
  • If your doctor prescribes another medicine, take it exactly as directed.

Chronic hives in children: When to call

Give an epinephrine shot if:

  • You think your child is having a severe allergic reaction.

After giving an epinephrine shot call 911, even if your child feels better.

Call 911 if:

  • Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over their body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very lightheaded or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
    • Severe belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Your child has been given an epinephrine shot, even if your child feels better.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child's hives get worse.
  • Your child has mild belly pain or nausea.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.