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Hives in Children: What Every St. Louis Parent Needs to Know

Updated: Mar 1

A young kid with hives on his back.
Hives St. Louis

As a parent, it's natural to worry about your child's health. When you notice hives on your child's skin, it can be concerning and leave you wondering what's causing them and how to make them go away. In this article, our dermatologists at Mid-County Dermatology in Saint Louis, MO will detail what you need to know about hives in children, including the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

What are hives?

Hives, also known as urticaria, are raised, itchy bumps that appear on the skin. They can be caused by an allergic reaction, infection, a medication like Ibuprofen or Aspirin, or other factors. Hives can appear on any part of the body and can vary in size and shape. The individual lesions typically last for a few hours but the rash itself can last up to a few days, and in some cases, can persist for weeks or even months.

Causes of hives in children

Hives can be caused by a wide range of factors, including:

  • Allergies to food, medications, or other substances

  • Infections, such as viral or bacterial infections

  • Insect bites or stings

  • Exposure to heat or cold

  • Emotional stress or anxiety

  • Exercise

  • Pressure on the skin, such as from tight clothing or a tight seatbelt

In up to 50% of acute cases (those lasting less than 6 weeks), the exact cause of hives in children is unknown.

Symptoms of hives in children

The symptoms of hives in children can vary depending on the cause, but they typically include:

  • Raised, red, or pink bumps on the skin

  • Itching

  • Swelling of the affected area

  • Burning or stinging sensation

  • The appearance of the bumps and the itching can be intermittent or continuous.

Diagnosing hives in children

If your child has hives, your dermatologist will likely ask you about their medical history and any recent exposure to potential triggers, such as any recent illness, new foods, or medications. They may also perform a physical examination to evaluate the hives and determine if any other symptoms are present.

In some cases, your dermatologist may recommend allergy testing or blood tests to determine if an allergic reaction is causing the hives.

Treatment for hives in children

The treatment for hives in children will depend on the cause and severity of the condition. In many cases, the hives will go away on their own without treatment.

If the hives are caused by an allergic reaction, your dermatologist may recommend antihistamines like Zyrtec or Allegra to help relieve the itching and swelling. In more severe cases, they may prescribe corticosteroids (like Orapred) or other medications to help reduce inflammation.

Home remedies for hives in children

Several home remedies may help relieve the symptoms of hives in children, including:

  • Applying a cold compress to the affected area

  • Soaking in a cool bath with oatmeal or baking soda

  • Applying over-the-counter anti-itch lotions that contain ingredients like camphor/menthol (Sarna) or pramoxine (CeraVe Anti-Itch)

  • Using fragrance-free refrigerated moisturizers

  • Avoiding tight clothing, wool clothing, and anything else that may irritate the skin

  • Keep your child hydrated with plenty of water.

When to see a doctor

In most cases, hives in children are not a cause for concern and will go away on their own. However, you should contact your child's doctor if:

  • The hives last for more than a few days

  • Your child has difficulty breathing or swallowing

  • Your child develops other symptoms, such as fever or joint pain

  • Your child has a history of severe allergic reactions.

Complications of hives in children

While hives in children are usually harmless, they can lead to complications in rare cases. For example, hives can be a sign of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis (trouble breathing, fast heart rate, light-headedness), which can be life-threatening if left untreated.


Hives in children can be a worrying and uncomfortable condition, but in most cases, they are not serious and will go away on their own. Understanding the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of hives can help you better manage your child's condition and reduce the risk of complications.

If you have any concerns about your child's hives or their overall health, don't hesitate to contact our Mid-County Dermatology team at Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis Missouri - 314-994-0200.


Can hives in children be contagious?

No, hives are not contagious.

Can stress cause hives in children?

Yes, emotional stress can be a trigger for hives in some children.

Are hives in children a sign of a serious illness?

In most cases, hives are not a sign of a serious illness and will go away on their own.

Can hives in children be prevented?

While it may not be possible to prevent all cases of hives in children, you can take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to potential triggers, such as known allergens or insect bites.

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