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Hives In Babies – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

4 min read

Seeing red raised spots on your baby’s skin can be a scary sight, especially if you don’t know what caused them. Most often, these spots are a case of the hives which is a common skin reaction to an allergen. There is no need to worry as most of the times it will clear up and go away. Since your baby’s skin is delicate, he is more susceptible to skin problems. Hives are not contagious but can cause discomfort to your baby. If your baby has hives, keep him as comfortable as possible and then try to find out what caused hives in order to prevent them from reappearing. Read on to know more about hives, its causes and ways to treat and prevent it.
child with Mosquito Bites

What Are Hives In Babies?

Hives, also called Urticaria, are red itchy bumps of various sizes and shapes that can appear anywhere on the baby’s skin. They may appear as small as a mosquito bite and patches as large as your palm. Sometimes small patches join together and cover a significant area of the baby’s body.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hives In Babies?
  • Red or white itchy bumps spread all over the body
  • Patches or rashes that are about 1cm to 2cm wide and develop suddenly
  • The rashes may vanish from one region of the baby’s skin only to appear elsewhere
  • The rashes can last for a couple minutes to several days. In acute cases, hives keep appearing and disappearing for weeks and months at a stretch
  • Angiodema is a condition that can occur along with hives. This causes inflammation and swelling of baby’s hands, feet, mouth, eyes or the genitals
  • In extreme cases, the baby might develop breathlessness and dizziness. In this situation, you should contact your doctor immediately
What Are The Causes Of Hives In Babies?

Your baby’s skin is very sensitive. Sometimes there is no specific cause for appearance of hives in babies and figuring out the culprit can be extremely frustrating for both parents and doctors.
10 common causes that trigger hives in babies are:

  1. If your baby is allergic to any food item like nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, tomatoes or any fruits etc
  2. Insect bites or stings
  3. Allergic to pollen from plants
  4. Prolonged exposure to sun or cold weather
  5. Allergic to certain medication or allergy shots
  6. Allergic to certain cream or lotion
  7. Allergic to chemicals present in laundry detergent or soap
  8. Too much sweating of the skin or continuous scratching
  9. Allergic to pets and other animals
  10. Infections including common colds

Baby with acne rashes

How Does An Allergy Trigger Hives In Babies?

When the baby encounters the irritant, the mast cells in the bloodstream release the chemical called histamine. Histamine, when accumulated, leaks from the tiny blood vessels under the skin. This fluid pools under the skin to form rashes of different shape and size. It is because of this reason, the rashes disappear from some part of the baby’s body and re-appear in another part (histamine flow with the blood stream). The process continues until the histamine subsides from the blood stream, which in turn depends on the intensity of the allergy and the amount of the histamine produced.

How Are Hives In Babies Diagnosed?

More often, the physical examination itself is enough to diagnose hives in babies. Your doctor may ask you questions regarding your baby’s food habits, his exposure to possible allergy-causing substances like pollen, recent intake of medicines (if any) , if you have recently changed your baby’s soap, shampoo or laundry detergent, any new pet at home etc. This will help the doctor to diagnose the cause of hives in babies.
Sometimes, skin patch tests may be ordered by the doctor to determine what your baby is allergic to. Certain blood tests are also done to determine if the allergy is present in the whole system.

How To Treat Hives In Babies?

There are several options to treat the hives in babies.

  • If the hives are acute, you should take the baby to the doctor and he will prescribe some antihistamines, to block the action of histamine, which helps in alleviating the symptoms. Remember not give the baby over-the-counter medicines
  • More often, the hives require no treatment and resolve on their own. There are home remedies you can do to treat the hives and soothe the symptoms:
    • Oatmeal bath helps to soothe the aggravated skin
    • Applying aloe Vera paste (taken from fresh aloe Vera leaves) over the body and washing it off with cold water helps to relieve the burning sensation and itching
    • If the hives are due to pet or pollen (external factors), give your baby a good bath. Thoroughly rinse the allergen away. After the bath, apply calamine lotion all over the body
    • Make your baby wear loose cotton clothes
    • Apply cold compresses or a wet cloth on the affected area
How To Prevent Hives In Babies?

There is not much you can do to prevent hives in babies. If your baby is known to be allergic to a particular substance, then keeping your baby away from it can be effective in preventing hives. Also if your baby is allergic to a pet then not allowing the pet near the baby can prevent hives in babies.

Can Hives In Babies Cause Any Complications?

Hives are caused by an allergic reaction. Generally they disappear in a couple of days and there is nothing to panic about but sometimes hives might indicate that your baby is about to have a severe allergic reaction. Seek medical attention immediately if:

  • The home remedies are not working
  • The hives appear after an insect bite
  • The rashes are too itchy and severe
  • The symptoms get worse
  • Your baby’s hives are accompanied by swollen lips or eyes or he has difficulty in breathing
  • He has nausea and vomiting
  • His skin appears cold and clammy
  • He develops wheezing
  • Has a rapid heart rate
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