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Skin Problems

Hives

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

 

Hives are raised, red, itchy, often fluid-filled patches of skin (wheals or welts) that may appear and disappear at random. They range in size from less than 0.6 to 2.5 cm (0.25 to 1 inch ) or more, and they may last a few minutes or a few days.

A single hive commonly develops after an insect sting. Multiple hives often develop in response to a drug, food, or infection. Other possible causes of hives include plant allergies, inhaled allergens, stress, cosmetics, and exposure to heat, cold, sunlight, or pressure of clothing. Often a cause cannot be found.

Home Treatment

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  • Avoid the substance that causes hives.

  • Apply cool water compresses to help relieve itching. Also See Relief From Itching.

  • Take an oral antihistamine (such as Benadryl or Chlor-Tripolon) to treat the hives and relieve itching. Once the hives have disappeared, decrease the dose of the medication slowly over 5 to 7 days.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • Call 911 or seek emergency services if spreading hives occur with dizziness, wheezing, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, or swelling of the tongue, lips, or face.

  • If hives develop soon after you take a new drug.

  • If hives persist for several days despite Home Treatment.

 

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