Help! My Child Broke Out In Hives

When your child develops raised, red, and itchy welts out of nowhere, it can be alarming. Learn what may be causing your child to break out in hives, and what you can do to manage symptoms and future incidents. 

About 20% of people break out in hives at some point in their lives. When it happens to your child, you may be especially concerned. Hives can seemingly come out of nowhere. At Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center, we understand how distressing hives can be, and we’re ready to help. 

What are hives?

Hives, or urticaria, are a type of skin reaction characterized by red, itchy welts that can vary in size and shape. They often appear suddenly and can disappear just as quickly, sometimes within hours. 

While hives themselves are not usually dangerous, they can be incredibly uncomfortable for your child and may sometimes indicate an underlying allergic reaction that needs attention.

Common triggers for hives

We want you to know what may be triggering your child’s hives so you can avoid them and prevent future outbreaks. Here are some common causes:

Food allergies

Certain foods like nuts, shellfish, eggs, and dairy are common culprits. Even trace amounts can cause a reaction in highly sensitive people.

Environmental factors

Pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold are frequent triggers. Seasonal changes can also influence allergies and hives.


Antibiotics, aspirin, and other medications may cause hives. Let us know if your child started a new medication so we can look into possible side effects.


Viral infections, such as the common cold, can lead to hives. Bacterial infections, like strep throat, may also be a trigger.

Insect bites or stings

Bites or stings from bees, wasps, or other insects can cause hives. If you suspect your child has an insect bite that resulted in hives, be sure to watch for signs of a more severe reaction, like swelling or difficulty breathing.

Physical stress

In some children, heat, cold, pressure, and even exercise can sometimes trigger hives. Tight clothing or vigorous scratching can also be a cause.

What to do if your child breaks out in hives

Let’s start with what not to do if your child has a breakout: Don’t panic. They will take cues from your reaction, so try to stay calm and reassuring.

Check for any other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or tongue, or dizziness. These could indicate a more serious reaction known as anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical attention.

Depending on your child’s age, over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines like cetirizine (Zyrtec®) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) can reduce itching and swelling. Reach out to us or your child’s pediatrician if you’re unsure of dosage.

You can soothe itchy hives by applying a cool, damp cloth to the affected area. Your child may also get relief from a lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal.

If you’re able to identify what is triggering your child’s hives, you’re better able to take steps to avoid it in the future. An allergy diary that includes foods, activities, and other factors can help you determine the cause. 

When you should seek medical help

Usually, you’re able to manage and resolve your child’s hives at home. However, if the outbreak persists for more than a few days, is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, joint pain, or difficulty breathing, or is frequent and without a clear cause, check with our office. 

Also, let us know if over-the-counter treatments have failed to provide relief. 

Seeing your child break out in hives can be scary. At our three offices in Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, and Abingdon, Virginia, we’re ready to help. Call our nearest office today or send us a message here on our website.

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