Hives are also known as urticaria. Hives means red, itchy raised patches on the skin which last from a few hours to few days. Hives can appear on any part of the body.
Hives occur as a result of an allergic (or non-allergic) reaction produced by or within the body. Due to some allergic reactions chemical called histamine is released from the body. Histamine is responsible for the development of hives.
Hives can be divided into two groups.
- Acute hives
- Chronic hives
Hives which are of recent origin and less than 6 weeks duration are called acute hives.
Hives which persist beyond six weeks are known as chronic hives.
Causes of hives:
Hives can be caused by variety of factors. Most common factors which are known to cause hives on the body are
- Ingestion of certain foods: Foods like nuts, eggs, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, strawberries, and milk. Some canned foods due their preservatives and artificial colors can cause the hives.
- Drugs: Certain medications like NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), drugs containing codeine, penicillin and sulpha drugs can produce hives in children.
- Insect bite or parasites in the body: Insect bite with mosquitoes or stings by bees is known to produce severe hives on the body. If a child is infested by worms like round worms or thread worms then it becomes a major contributory factor for the development of hives.
- Weather changes: Exposure to severe heat or severe cold makes the child prone to hives. If a child plays outdoor game in bright sunlight then it can become a contributory factor for the formation of hives.
- Tight clothing or waste band: If a child is wearing a very tight waist band or synthetic and tight clothes then he or she may produce hives.
- Stress: Extreme emotional stress is known to produce hives in children. High expectations in academics by parents, teachers etc. can make the child stressful and that in turn may produce hives in children.
Treatment of hives:
First, the doctor has to find out the causative factor behind the development of hives to treat it successfully.
- Maintain a food diary: When a child develops hives; the parents should try to find out what food items were consumed by the child on the previous day. Parents should maintain a diary in which they should write the food items which were consumed by the child and whether it produced hives in the child or not.
- When a drug is the culprit: If a child is sick and he has developed hives after consuming some medicines then most probably the medicines are the causative factors for the formation of hives. In such circumstances, note down the medicines which were given to the child and report it to the treating doctor and avoid giving those medicines again.
- Use of antihistaminic medicine: As soon as the hives appear on the child’s body, give antihistaminic medicine after consulting the doctor. Do not wait to see if the hives are disappearing on their own or not. Sometimes, allergic reaction spread very quickly causing major concern to the life of the child
- Local application: Lacto calamine lotion or aloe vera containing lotion should be applied on the skin to sooth itching.
- Dress up the child in loose, clean, cotton clothes: Child should be made to wear loose, cotton garments. The dress should be able to make the child breath easily. Synthetic, woolen and tight clothing should not be worn by the child as such clothes may aggravate the condition.
Know when to rush to the hospital:
If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, please take your child to the hospital without wasting time. These symptoms call for an emergency treatment by an expert.
- When the whole face, eyes or lips of the child are swollen
- When the child complaints of difficulty in breathing
- When the child coughs continuously
- When the child feels dizzy or faint