Hives are a skin rash that develops in response to an allergy or infection. Hives may last a few minutes or a few hours or a few weeks.

Symptoms of hives are:

  • red, raised, odd-shaped welts scattered across your child's body
  • swollen eyes or lips

If your child gets hives, you should carefully make a list of recent foods they have eaten, environmental exposures and activities. Call your health care provider to make a clinic visit, and be sure to bring the list with you and your child.

What to do for hives

For relief, give your child:

  • oral Benadryl® (by mouth) every four to six hours


  • oral Zyrtec® (by mouth) every 24 hours.

If your child is taking an antibiotic when the hives start, stop giving the antibiotic and make an appointment with your health care provider for treatment. Make sure you mention that your child has hives.

Occasionally, hives are part of a more severe allergy reaction that quickly leads to difficulty breathing. If this happens, call 911.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022