Hives (urticaria)

Hives (urticaria) is a raised itchy rash that may either appear on one part of the body or be spread across large areas. Hives can look like red, raised patches, but can also be red spots. They can be different shapes and sizes and can affect both adults and children. The rash can also sometimes feel like it is stinging or burning. Most hives go away within 24 hours, but chronic hives can last for months or years.


Typical symptoms of hives include:

Raised red patches or red spots

Itchy skin in the affected area

Stinging or burning sensation

Symptoms and circumstances that require a call to Ahmeys or NHS 111

  • Symptoms have not improved after two days
  • You are worried about your child’s hives
  • The rash is spreading and not going away
  • You get hives frequently (may be an indication of an allergy)
  • You have a high temperature (fever) and feel general unwell
  • You also have swelling under the skin (this could indicate that you have angioedema)

Symptoms and circumstances that require emergency medical assistance

Occasionally, hives could be one of the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. If you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, you will need immediate emergency care. Dial 999 for an ambulance if you experience the symptoms below in addition to hives

  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • Facial swelling
  • Additional skin reactions, including itching, hives and pale or flushed skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A weak, rapid pulse
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Additional possible symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain


Hives occur when your immune system releases high levels of histamine and other chemicals into the skin as a reaction to something. Triggers can include:

  • Pollen and plants
  • Food allergies (lactose, wheat, etc.)
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Chemicals
  • Dust mites
  • Latex
  • Overheating
  • Sunlight
  • Exercise
  • Sweat
  • Medicines (contact an expert at Ahmeys if you have a mild or moderate allergic reaction to one of your prescribed medications. If you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, call an ambulance)
  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Underlying medical conditions (such as immune disorders)


If you suspect that you may have hives, call and make an appointment with an expert at Ahmeys. One of our experts will examine your skin and review your medical history. We especially recommend calling if your baby or child has a rash and you are not sure if it is hives.


Typically, hives can be easy to recognise and can be treated at home with anti-histamines. Normal mild hives will also usually disappear within 24 hours. If you have been concerned about your hives or your child’s hives and an expert at Ahmeys has confirmed your diagnosis, he or she will then consider the possible treatments and discuss them with you. The main treatments for hives are:

  • Anti-itching or anti-inflammatory drugs (standard treatment for hives is antihistamine medications that reduce itching and swelling)
  • Oral corticosteroid drug (to reduce redness, swelling and itching)
  • Immune-suppressing drugs (an Ahmeys expert may prescribe a drug to calm your overactive immune system and reduce the production of histamine if other methods have been ineffective)

How to manage your hives?

Following diagnosis, we recommend keeping regular contact with your Ahmeys specialist and following your prescribed treatment plan. You can usually treat mild hives at home. Below are some things that you can do to help ease your symptoms:

  • Speak to an expert at Ahmeys for advice on the best treatments, such as antihistamine
  • Call and book an appointment at Ahmeys if you feel as though your symptoms are getting worse or if they don’t improve after taking your prescribed medication.
  • Avoid known triggers (food, medications and extreme temperatures or any situation or allergen that has triggered hives in the past)
  • Keep a diary (if you suspect that food or a certain allergen has been causing you to repeatedly have hives, keep a symptom and food diary. This can help an expert at Ahmeys to help you identify triggers)
  • Place an ice pack or a cold compress (cloth or flannel cooled with cold water) to reduce any swelling
  • If possible, elevate or raise the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Avoid scratching the area to reduce the risk of introducing infection
  • You can purchase anti-inflammatory and anti-itching creams, such as Hydrocortisone, over the counter to relieve itching and reduce inflammation
  • Wear loose, soft-textured clothing to avoid skin irritation
  • Take a comfortably cool bath to relieve itching


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