Hives (Urticaria) in Children
Hives are a result of the human body’s reaction to an allergy. A chemical called histamine is released whenever the human body encounters an allergen. The reason for the allergy can vary across multiple sources, such as:
Coming in contact with certain insects or being bitten or stung by bees or ants, may result in the development of hives as a reaction.
- Food items
From consuming specific items to even touching them, food remains one of the primary reasons for the development of hives. Milk, peanuts, soybeans, shellfish have been known to cause allergies in some children or might cause hives popping up on their body.
Being around pet animals such as cats or dogs can result in a reaction in your child if they are allergic to animal hair.
In certain situations, diseases such as a viral infection or common cold might result in red spots and hives on your child’s body.
- Temperature fluctuations
Temperature fluctuations, either in the environment or the surroundings, may result in your child’s skin reacting to it, causing a breakout of hives.
Since hives are the human body’s reaction to an unwanted chemical, certain medicines or antibiotics can result in the body reacting to them, and causing hives.
Usually, hives in children are rather mild and can be treated at home with simple remedies. Antihistamine tablets for oral consumption are the go-to method for the treatment of hive breakouts. At times, using a 0.5 to 1 per cent topical cortisone cream has been known to provide substantial relief from the stinging sensation around the hive.
In uncommon situations, if the rash gets severe over time and your child does not respond to oral medication and antihistamines, it is best to get them checked by a doctor. If accompanied by angioedema, a doctor’s attention is highly recommended, and they might suggest a stronger medication to bring the swelling under control. In extreme cases, a shot of epinephrine might be administered to your child to reverse the allergic reaction.
What Are Hives?
Urticaria, welts, swellings, are some of the alternatives words that are used to describe baby hives. They appear as red rashes on the skin, in different shapes and sizes, and cause itching in those areas. A very well-known and defined sign of hives is a pale red central area that is slightly swollen, surrounded by a ring of red rash.
Causes of Hives in Children
Hives are almost always a result of an allergic reaction, although pinpointing the exact source of the reaction can be quite challenging. A usual case of hives stays for around 24 hours and then disappears. This small window of a day can provide interesting clues for discovering the source of the allergy. It could be a new shampoo, maybe a bug that bit them in the garden, a new food that they tried, or they played around with a cat or a dog.
Hives that last more than a day, ranging from a couple of weeks to multiple months, are difficult to track down to a single source. Usually, it’s a food allergy in most cases. However, consumption of certain medicines has also known to cause allergic reactions, resulting in hives. Chronic hives are somewhat rare in children. So, it’s best to monitor the diet of your child and opting for allergy testing to discover the source.
Signs and Symptoms of Hives in Babies and Kids
- Ordinary red rashes and itches appearing suddenly for no reason.
- Red spots or welts in several places of the body.
- Rashes that flare up, itch a lot, swell, disappear in some time, and reappear in a different area of the body.
- A cycle of rashes flaring and settling happening over the course of days or weeks.
- Chronic hives, that are known to last for more than six months.
In extreme cases, the appearance of hives can trigger an anaphylactic shock in the body. Within an hour or so of the reaction, an anaphylactic shock to the presence of hives might result in breathing difficulty, nausea, blurred vision, itching, sneezing, or even loss of consciousness.
How Is the Diagnosis of Urticaria Done?
The first step towards the diagnosis of urticaria is the examination of a distinctive red rash on the body. The source of the allergy can then be traced by understanding multiple factors associated with the rash, such as-
- When and where the rash was first observed
- What food was consumed and the daily diet
- Any new medications consumed lately
- Presence of animals or pets in the surroundings
- Insect bites
- A family history of urticaria
Various types of medication are used in carrying out the treatment of hives, that range from controlling a mild reaction to handling an extreme case of a hive breakout. Benadryl for hives in toddlers is a prevalent method of providing relief and controlling the reaction.
If hives are present all over the body, antihistamine medication such as cetirizine can help alleviate the itching and swelling.
2. Take Histamine Blockers
Doctors may suggest taking histamine blockers orally or via an injection to help relieve the hives. Cimetidine and ranitidine are generally used, although they might cause indigestion as a side-effect.
In case the child doesn’t respond to over-the-top medication, the doctor might recommend stronger topical or oral corticosteroids, like prednisone. These are used only for a short amount of time.
4. Getting Asthma Drug Injected
Certain studies have demonstrated that injection of omalizumab, an asthma drug, can help relieve hives without any side effects. It does cost higher than the usual methods of treatment.
5. Combination of Asthma Drugs and Antihistamines
In extreme cases of hive breakouts, the doctor might combine asthma drugs with an over-the-top prescription of an antihistamine. These, at times, may result in behaviour and mood changes in the child.
6. Immune System Suppressants
Chronic hives may need to be treated with immune system suppressants. Drugs such as cyclosporine and tacrolimus limit the immune system’s response to hives, but also have side effects of a headache and nausea.
Chronic and acute hives can cause various complications, such as a deeper swelling of skin tissue. These may further impact the mood of the child and cause irritation.
Complications of Angioedema (Giant Hives)
Angioedema is caused by a build-up of fluid in the layers of the skin, resulting in large swellings. These usually affect the areas of eyes, lips, genitals, hands, and feet. A constant presence of further angioedema results in a deterioration of mental well-being causing stress and unhappiness.
How to Soothe the Itchy Skin
Soothing itchy skin can provide quite a relief from hives. Taking a cold bath or a shower can help with it, as it also washes away any allergens that might be present on the skin. The application of a soothing cream might also help with the same.
Home Remedies for Hives
- Wash the area to remove any allergens present.
- A cold bath with a sprinkle of baking soda can help soothe the skin.
- Applying a cold compress to the skin helps calm the itch.
Tips to Take Care of Your Child During a Hive Infection
- Make sure your child does not end up itching the hives.
- The clothes should fit comfortably and not be too tight around the hives.
- Avoid exposing the child to extreme temperatures or temperature fluctuations.
When to Consult a Doctor
- If the hives do not disappear within a few days, consult your doctor to understand if it is a case of acute hives.
- In the case of chronic hives, visit your doctor as soon as hives are observed.
- If your child experiences an extreme reaction to the hives, inform your doctor immediately.
Hives in children are usually mild and can be treated very easily with simple home remedies. In most cases, they are no more irritating than the common cold. With simple care and medication, your child can be back to normal in no time.
Also Read: Tonsillitis in Children