Hives (Urticaria) and Angioedema

Hives (urticaria) is a red, swollen, itchy rash that breaks out on the skin. This rash often comes and goes, moving to different parts of the body.

Angioedema is hives that is deeper to the skin, often in the face, hands and feet.

Hives and angioedema may last for several days. Sometimes the rash lasts longer.

Common Causes of hives or angioedema include:

  • medicines
  • something you have eaten
  • something you have touched
  • something put on your skin
  • cold
  • heat
  • viral infections
  • insect bites
  • stress

Hives has many causes, but the exact cause cannot be found in a fair number of cases. Hives are NOT contagious. Rarely are hives part of a more serious illness.

Treatment for Hives and/or Angioedema

  • If you know what caused the hive reaction, then avoid it.
  • Do not take any medicines without checking with your doctor, even over-the-counter medicines.
  • Take Benadryl┬« (plain). You do not need a prescription for this. Do NOT drive or operate heavy machinery while taking this.
  • You should not be alone for 24 hours, in case your reaction returns.
  • To help with the itch, put cool comprsses on the skin or take a cool bath, or a bath with Aveeno┬«.
  • Do not take hot baths or showers.
  • Wear loose clothes and loose-fitting underwear. Avoid tight underwear. Any irritation to the skin will cause more rash.

Call Your Doctor If …

  • your rash is still very itchy after taking the medication for more than 1 full day.
  • you get a fever.
  • your joints swell.
  • you have any new symptoms.
  • your rash lasts more than 1 week.

Visit the OUCC or the Emergency Department if …

  • you have have problem breathing.
  • you have a tight feeling in your throat or chest.
  • you have any swelling of your mouth, lips or tongue.
  • you have abdominal pain.

These are signs of a medical emergency. Get medical help at once.
Dial 911 or call the operator.