Hives, also called urticaria, are itchy, red raised welts. They range in size, can disappear and reappear at random, and usually last from a few minutes up to a few days. In rare cases they may become chronic. Hives are not contagious. They are usually caused by an allergic reaction to things such as medicine, food, pets, or insect bites. Infection or exposure to heat or cold may also cause hives. In many cases, no cause can be found.

Prevention

  • Avoid exposures known to cause you to develop hives
  • Develop an allergy action plan with your medical provider

Treatment

Home care   Home care

  • Take cool water baths or oatmeal baths to reduce itching
  • Avoid rubbing or scratching hives, as this can release more histamine (the substance in the blood that causes hives)
  • Take an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl® or Chlor-Trimeton per package instructions. Be aware that these medicines are sedating.

Professional care  Professional Care

Seek immediate medication attention if:

  • You develop difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest pain, or swelling of the face, lips, and tongue
  • Your hives persist more than 48 hours despite home treatment
  • You develop hives after starting any new medication