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Hives is an itchy red rash that can appear suddenly and move about your body. It goes away in one place and comes back in another. This is usually caused by something that you are allergic to such as:

EATING: fruit, shellfish, chocolate, nuts, tomatoes or medicine

BREATHING: pollens, animal hair/fur or mold spores

Exposure to cold air, sun rays or exercise can sometimes cause an attack. Many times we cannot find a cause. Medicines can be used to reduce itching and swelling. The rash will usually fade over several days, but can sometimes last up to two weeks.

Home Care:

1) Do not wear tight clothing and do not take hot baths/showers since heat can make the itching worse.

2) An ice pack (ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrapped in a towel) will reduce local areas of redness and itching. Lanacaine cream or Solarcaine spray (or other product containing "benzocaine") will reduce itching.

3) Oral Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine available at drug and grocery stores. Unless a prescription antihistamine was given, Benadryl may be used to reduce itching if large areas of the skin are involved. Use lower doses during the daytime and higher doses at bedtime since the drug may make you sleepy. [NOTE: Do not use Benadryl if you have glaucoma or if you are a man with trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate.] Claritin (loratadine) is an antihistamine that causes less drowsiness and is a good alternative for daytime use.

4) If you know what you are sensitive to, avoid this substance. Future reactions could be worse than this one.

Follow Up

with your doctor as directed by our staff, if symptoms do not begin to improve in two days. If you have had a severe reaction, or have had several episodes of hives, then ask your doctor about allergy testing to find out what you are allergic to.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

-- Trouble breathing or swallowing

-- New or increased swelling in the face, lips, tongue or throat

-- Dizziness, weakness or fainting


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