Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page


What Are Hives?

Hives are pink or red bumps or slightly raised patches of skin. Kids can get hives for different reasons.

Usually, hives are harmless. But sometimes they can be a sign of a serious problem. Always tell a parent if you have bumps or raised patches of skin.

What Do Hives Look and Feel Like?

Each case of hives can look and feel different. Hives might:

  • have a pale center
  • be as tiny as a dot or as big as your hand
  • look like rings or groups of rings joined together in clusters
  • change locations within hours (for example, start on the face and then move to the arms)
  • itch, burn, or sting

How Long Do Hives Last?

A case of hives can last for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days.

What Causes Hives?

Many different things can cause a kid to have hives, including:

  • an allergic reaction to something (like a food, medicine, or insect bite)
  • a virus
  • cold weather
  • sun
  • scratching the skin
  • exercise

Sometimes the cause isn’t known.

How Do Hives Form?

Hives form from a reaction that happens inside the body. It starts with the body releasing chemicals, including histamine (say: HIS-tuh-meen). The chemicals cause fluid to leak from small blood vessels under the skin. The fluid collects and forms hives.

What Will the Doctor Do?

Hives often go away on their own. But if you see your doctor, they may diagnose you with hives just by looking at you and hearing about what happened. Sometimes, doctors give a medicine called an antihistamine to help if the hives are itchy.

If you get hives a lot, or if you have a serious reaction, your doctor might send you to an allergy doctor.

When Are Hives an Emergency?

Sometimes hives are a sign of a serious allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis (say: ah-nuh-fuh-LAK-sis), which also can affect breathing and other body functions. If this happens, a kid needs medical care right away.

Can Hives Be Prevented?

Kids who have had hives in the past and know the cause might be able to prevent them by avoiding what brought them on. If the cause isn't known, though, they could get hives again.

Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date Reviewed: Feb 6, 2024

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

By using this site, you consent to our use of cookies. To learn more, read our privacy policy.