Hives rashes usually settle down within a few minutes to a few days. You can often treat hives yourself.

Check if you have hives

Hives can be different sizes and shapes and appear anywhere on the body in both adults and children.

The rash is often itchy and sometimes feels like it’s stinging or burning.

If you're not sure it's hives

Look at other Rashes in babies and children.

A pharmacist can help with hives

A pharmacist can give you advice about the best treatment to bring down your hives rash.

To relieve any pain or itchiness you can use:

  • a steroid cream
  • a cooling cream such as calamine
  • antihistamine medicine

Tell a pharmacist if you have a long-term condition because you might not be able to take antihistamines. They may also not be suitable for young children.

See a GP if:

  • the symptoms don’t improve after 2 days
  • you’re worried about your child’s hives
  • the rash is spreading
  • your hives keep coming back - you may be allergic to something
  • you also have a high temperature and feel generally unwell
  • you also have swelling under the skin - this might be angioedema

Treatment from your GP

Your GP may prescribe corticosteroids, menthol cream or stronger antihistamines.

If your hives don’t go away with treatment they may refer you to a dermatologist.

Go to A&E or call 999 if you have:

  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dizziness or fainting
  • nausea or vomiting
  • an increased heart rate
  • rapid and severe swelling of the face, mouth or throat

These could be signs of a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylactic shock.

You can’t always prevent hives

Hives occurs when something causes high levels of histamine and other chemicals to be released in the skin. This is known as a trigger.

Triggers can include:

  • food
  • pollen and plants
  • insect bites and stings
  • chemicals
  • latex
  • dust mites
  • heat - work and sleep in a cool room and wear loose, lightweight clothes
  • sunlight, exercise or water
  • medicines - speak to your GP if you have an allergic reaction
  • infections
  • emotional stress

Call 111

If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.

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