Health Tips

Search by health tip group
Search by keyword

Health Tips / Hives

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Hives (Urticaria) are characterised by itching, redness and the development of welts or smooth raised red patches, of varying sizes. Scratching the hives can cause them to break and a scab may be formed. Hives and scabies can often be confused; scabies appear as tiny red marks or dots on the skin, while hives are usually more diffuse and broader is size. Hives are an allergic reaction. The allergy could be to foods, such as shellfish, tomatoes, strawberries, animals, perfumes, deodorants, etc.
To specifically identify the cause at the time can often be difficult, but all recent changes to diet and lifestyle should be investigated as a source of the allergy. Hives can often appear and disappear within a number of days.
Those who suffer from persistent, recurrence of the problem should seek specialist advice.

Preventative measures

If the cause of the hives is known then this agent should obviously be avoided. Hives can often come and go in a number of days with only minor discomfort, even without finding the actual cause of the problem. If the causative agent cannot be found, a further investigation of diet and lifestyle should be taken with a doctor or specialist in order that the agent can be avoided and further outbreaks prevented.

Non-prescription treatments

It is advisable to treat hives, especially if they are very itchy, as persistent itching may cause marking of the area and in some cases a secondary infection. Anti-itching products such as EURAX cream or lotion or CALAMINE LOTION are useful in preventing itching and should be applied to the affected area twice to three times daily, providing relief for 6-10 hours. For children under 3 years, once daily application only is required.

Hydrocortisone creams such as HC45, HYDROCORTISYL or CORTOPIN are also useful in reducing the itch of bites and stings, but can only be applied sparingly to small areas. For adults and children over 10 years only, application is once or twice daily to a maximum of 7 days. EURAX HC contains both anti-itching and hydrocortisone actives and is applied to the area twice daily.  Alterrnatively topical anti-histamines such as ANTHISAN cream can be applied to reduce the allergic reaction.  

Oral anti-histamines can be used in conjunction with topical antihistamines or on their own, depending on the severity of the hives. The older oral antihistamine products such as PIRITON will reduce symptoms but can cause drowsiness, need to be taken a number of times in the day and can interact with a number of medicines.

From the age of 2 years, children can take PHENERGAN elixir. As it causes drowsiness, it is usually administered at night, the quantity dependent on the age of the child. Children over 6 years of age can take PIRITON.

The newer oral antihistamines ZIRTEK, CLARITYN do not cause drowsiness, are only taken once daily and do not interact with as many medicines as the older antihistamines. They cannot be taken by children under 12 years.

For pain, paracetamol is recommended. The adult dose is two tablets up to four times daily, while the children s dosage depends on age.

Your Pharmacist will be able to advise you on the specific products and dosages that are suitable for you and your condition.  

Further Information on the medicines listed above including dosage is available at

Related health tips:
Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00