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Hives in Teenagers

by Eliza Martinez, studioD

Hives are a common skin condition, according to Medline Plus, but they could cause your teen to freak out. Generally harmless, hives are usually something you can treat at home, but if you can't determine the cause, mention the hives to your child's doctor. He might be able to pinpoint where the hives are coming from so you can choose the right treatment for your teen.


Hives are red, raised bumps on the surface of the skin. They generally appear in batches on the face, arms or legs and can last from 30 minutes to 36 hours with some disappearing and new ones taking their place, according to MayoClinic.com. Hives can change shape and often sting or are itchy. The size and severity of your teen's hives will vary, depending on the cause. Most people get hives at least once in their life, but some teens might suffer from chronic hives.


Sometimes hives are a result of allergies, temperature extremes, stress, infections or illness, according to KidsHealth.org. Other times, they can be a reaction to food, medication or insects, adds MayoClinic.com. Some teens might experience hives as the result of a food allergy and other times a teen might feel stressed about an upcoming test or sports team tryout. If your teen gets hives often, she likely has chronic hives, but in some cases, a case of hives is an isolated occurrence.

Treatment Options

In many cases, your teen won't have to go to the doctor to treat a case of hives. Sometimes, hives will disappear on their own, but if they persist, contact her doctor for advice. You'll likely get tips and tricks over the phone rather than having to go in to the office. For future bouts of hives, you'll know what to do. Oral antihistamines are a common treatment for hives and are an effective way to provide relief, but in chronic or hard-to-treat cases, other medications, such as steroids, might be necessary, notes the Kids Health website. Flare-ups can be treated by soaking in a bath for 10 minutes or applying a cold washcloth or ice cube for 10 minutes, and avoid rubbing the hives or using warm or hot water, according to the Children's Physician Network.

When to See the Doctor

Sometimes hives require a trip to the doctor. In rare cases, hives are accompanied by swelling airways, which can impede breathing. If your teen has trouble breathing, feels lightheaded or feels a constriction in her throat, take her to the emergency room right away. If the hives persist for several days or don't respond to home treatment, take your teen to the doctor's office for further evaluation.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

Photo Credits

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