If your child breaks out in an itchy rash it could be hives. While most cases are harmless and temporary some common symptoms can include skin swelling that begins to lessen and go away within minutes or hours, slightly raised pink or red areas, or welts that can appear alone or connect in a group over a large area.
When hives do occur you need to first identify what triggered the symptom. These triggers can include pollen, stress, exercise, cold temperatures, sun exposure, scratching the skin, insect bites and stings, infections including colds and viruses, or an allergic reaction to food or medication.
When your child does get hives and you have identified the triggers there are several things you can do at home.
Keep a log of your child's symptoms. If a particular trigger is suspected, take note and avoid exposure. It may also be helpful to keep a diary of your child's foods and medicines.
Consider using an over-the-counter oral antihistamine for children to help relieve the itch and discomfort. Always follow the directions on the label and use the correct dose.
Maintain a comfortable environment for your child. In the summer air-conditioning may be preferred and in the winter it is helpful to have a humidifier. You should also dress your child in comfortable clothes that are loose-fitting and 100% cotton. Cover the skin to prevent scratching, but make sure your child is kept cool to avoid overheating.
Apply a cool washcloth to the hives to bring additional relief to your child.
Bathe with lukewarm water and limit the bath to 10 minutes. You can also ease the itch by adding a product with colloidal oatmeal to your child's bath water. Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser, and avoid bubble baths and scented lotions. After bathing, pat the child dry with a towel and apply a gentle moisturizing cream or lotion to damp skin.
Whenever possible, try to keep your child from scratching because it may worsen the rash. One way to do this is to keep your child's fingernails short. You can also consider applying an over-the-counter anti-itch cream with pramoxine or menthol to your child's hives. Always use the product as directed.
The best remedy for hives is to try to avoid whatever triggers them, although identifying this is often difficult, says board-certified dermatologist Bruce A. Brod, MD, FAAD, clinical professor of dermatology, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine. You should also pay attention to any changes to your child's regular environment that may be contributing to the problem, such as dust, animals or the outdoors. Hives can happen within minutes of exposure to the trigger or two hours later. If your child's hives persist or continue to recur, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist. If your child's hives seem to worsen or your child is experiencing more serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or vomiting, go to the emergency room immediately, as these symptoms can be more serious or even life-threatening.
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