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Urticaria is also called hives. Hives can change size and shape, and appear anywhere on your skin. They can be mild or severe and last from a few minutes to a few days.


Signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction:

Hives may be an early sign of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an emergency. Seek care immediately if you feel dizzy, your mouth tingles, or have trouble swallowing or breathing.


  • Antihistamines: This medicine may be given to help decrease itching. It can be bought without a doctor's order.
  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease redness, pain, and swelling.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.


  • Cool your skin: This may help decrease your itching. Apply a cool pack to your hives. Dip a hand towel in cool water, wring it out, and place it on your hives. You may also soak your skin in a cool oatmeal bath.
  • Do not rub your hives: This can irritate your skin and cause more hives.
  • Carry an emergency kit: Ask your primary healthcare provider if you need to carry an emergency kit in case you have a severe allergic reaction. The kit contains a medicine called epinephrine. You can give it to yourself as a shot if you have a severe allergic reaction. Your primary healthcare provider will teach you and your family when and how to give epinephrine shots. Always carry your anaphylaxis kit with you. Check the expiration date on the kit every month and replace it before it expires.
  • Wear loose clothing: Tight clothes may irritate your skin and cause more hives.
  • Keep a diary: Write down everything you eat, drink, or apply to your skin for 3 weeks. Write down stressful events. Write down what you were doing right before your hives started.
  • Manage stress: Stress may trigger hives, or make them worse. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or allergy specialist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider or allergy specialist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your skin still itches 24 hours after you take your medicine.
  • You still have hives after 7 days.
  • Your joints are painful and swollen.
  • You used your emergency kit.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You are dizzy.
  • Your mouth tingles.
  • You have trouble swallowing or breathing because your lips, tongue, or throat are swollen.
  • Your heart is beating faster than it normally does.
  • You feel like you are going to faint.
  • You have cramping or severe pain in your abdomen.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Urticaria (Discharge Care)

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