What is hives?
Hives (also known as 'urticaria' or 'nettle rash'), is a skin rash that can be triggered by a variety of things including allergic reactions, medicines or an infection. Sometimes the trigger is unknown.
The rash is caused when the body produces a substance called histamine, which is a protein used to fight off viruses and bacteria.
The common symptoms include a raised, bumpy red rash, with the bumps often looking more like normal skin colour, that is often quite itchy. The raised areas of skin are known as wheals, which often fade after a few hours but can sometimes reappear elsewhere on the body.
The symptoms will usually disappear after a few days but if they continue or get worse they can be treated by taking antihistamines. You can buy antihistamines over-the-counter at pharmacies.
Sometimes hives can last for a long time. If you have hives for more than 6 weeks you might need more medicines.
If your baby gets hives repeatedly, it's important to see your doctor, as your baby may be allergic to something they are being fed frequently, such as cow's milk.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your hives, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
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Last reviewed: August 2019