Has your body ever used hives to flag your attention? Were you at a loss regarding the cause? Perhaps you’re in the throes of an episode and wonder how long it will last. I want to spare you the discomfort of outbreaks. In this blog, you’ll learn the causes of hives and their typical duration. How long do hives last in adults, in children and in babies? You’ll find answers in this post! We’ll also discuss preventive methods and healing techniques. Hopefully, with this information, you can bid hives good-bye long-term!
1. What are hives?
Hives are symptoms of an allergic reaction in the form of a swollen rash. It’s your body’s way of saying it doesn’t like a certain entity. In response to an allergen, immune cells release a protein called “histamine,” causing blood vessel leakage. The fluid pools beneath your skin, triggering a rash.
Hives are also known as wheals, welts, and urticaria. Lesions are typically pinkish and oval and may be rimmed in red. They range in size from a few millimeters to several inches. The welts are often itchy.
You may also see fluid accumulation beneath your skin. Common sites are the face, neck, arms, hands, legs, feet, and back. The swelling may be accompanied by a burning sensation. Although hives appear alarming, they aren’t contagious.
2. What causes hives?
To prevent recurrence, you must pinpoint the cause. Possible triggers are:
- insect bites
- allergenic foods
- artificial dyes and additives
- contact with an irritating substance, such as a chemical or latex
- aspirin, antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- emotional stress
- immune disorder
- plants and pollen
- dust mites
- environmental factors
Examples of environmental triggers are scratching and constant pressure from constrictive clothing, like belts and sock elastic. Another cause is extreme cold, such as plunging into a swimming pool. Other physical provocations are sweating, hot water, sun, and exercise.
3. How long do hives last?
The duration of hives depends on the types of hives.
Acute – A single episode can linger for up to six weeks, in which case it’s considered “acute.” However, most people have symptom resolution in eight to 24 hours.
Chronic – When symptoms persist for more than six weeks, urticaria is chronic. The most common cause of longstanding rashes is immune malfunction.
Anaphylaxis – This sudden, serious allergic reaction is life-threatening if not treated promptly. In addition to hives, symptoms include:
- hammering heartbeat
- cold, sweaty skin
- nausea and vomiting
- swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat
- difficulty breathing
- feeling lightheaded
Symptoms arise within minutes of allergic contact, requiring emergent medical care. Hospital treatment includes an injection of epinephrine, a synthetic form of the hormone adrenaline. Fortunately, epinephrine quickly resolves the allergic shock.
If anaphylaxis is caused by a food allergy, a second episode can occur one to four hours later. This is why patients may be asked to remain in the hospital for six hours of observance. Once you have an incident, it’s wise to always carry three doses of epinephrine.
How long do hives last in babies and children? Read: The Healing Time Frames In Various Circumstances
4. Should I see a doctor?
You should visit a doctor if you can’t identify the cause of hives or if they continue to recur. You’ll likely be asked the following questions:
- When did your episode begin?
- Where did symptoms originate?
- Were you bitten by an insect?
- Have you recently been exposed to animals, chemicals, or latex gloves?
- Are you taking any medications or herbal supplements?
- Is there any other significant medical history?
Your physician may also request that you keep a diary of everything you eat, drink, take as medicine, or contact for two to four weeks.
If symptoms have continued for more than six weeks, an external trigger isn’t likely. However, chronic hives can be prompted by allergenic foods, caffeine, and alcohol. If your doctor suspects a reaction to a specific substance, blood tests may be ordered.
5. What factors influence duration?
The time to symptom resolution is determined by:
- the ability to identify the cause
- symptom severity
- treatment effectiveness
6. What are the healing time frames in various circumstances?
If hives are triggered by a food, symptoms will arise each time you eat the offending substance. Usually, the reaction erupts within a few minutes of consumption.
How long do hives last after an allergic reaction from foods?
Symptoms generally resolve within two hours but can linger for days. Duration depends on the type and amount of food ingested and your sensitivity.
What are the main triggers?
The most common culprits are milk, fish, eggs, wheat, soy, and peanuts. Foods often implicated include apples, berries, cherries, citrus, kiwis, melons, carrots, celery, spinach, and tomatoes. Processed meats and chocolate can trigger histamine release. Alcohol is another offender.
There is no cure for a food allergy. Avoidance is the only remedy. However, allergies that begin in childhood can be outgrown regarding milk, eggs, wheat, and soy. Allergies to peanuts and fish are typically lifelong.
How long do hives last in children?
In children, episodes tend to emerge within 15 minutes to a few hours. They may arise and subside in waves. For example, welts may first appear on a child’s stomach and vanish within an hour, replaced by new ones on their back.
The rash typically lasts one to two days. However, it can recur intermittently for several weeks, even though a child is no longer exposed to an allergen.
What usually triggers hives in children?
Typical triggers of hives in children are:
- Illness – bacterial or viral infection
- Foods – fish, peanuts, and berries eaten within the previous 24 hours
- Medication – drugs used to treat a cold, fever, and pain
- Irritant – soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, fabric softener, suntan lotion, skin cream, clothes, bed sheets, blankets, or playing among bushes and grass
Weaker immune systems make babies more susceptible to hives. The most common cause is food allergy. Another offender is artificial dye, especially Yellow Number 5. All the above causes of hives also apply.
How long do hives last in babies?
Hives launched by food usually disappear within a few hours. Those rendered by viral infection can last three to five days. Autoimmune disease causes chronic duration. However, breastfeeding strengthens a baby’s immune system, reducing the likelihood of allergies.
Bring a child with widespread hives to a pediatrician, and speak with a doctor if hives last more than one week. Also read: Hives that come and go in babies: what are the causes and remedies?
Hives provoked by antibiotics can arise within minutes of a first dose and up to 10 days after stopping. They can persist for roughly two weeks.
Other implicated medications are aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, and ACE-inhibitor blood pressure drugs.
7. What are the best topical remedies for hives?
This soothing gel reduces redness, itching, and inflammation. Apply aloe vera gel to affected skin, leave on for 15 minutes, and rinse with warm water. Use as needed until your skin heals.
To relieve itching and inflammation, soak for 20 minutes in a bath of warm water and one cup of baking soda. Another option is applying a paste. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to produce a thick consistency. Apply it to your rash, and leave it on for 10 minutes. Then rinse off with cool water.
Use these two methods as needed for relief (source).
Apple Cider Vinegar
A natural antihistamine, vinegar regulates immune response. Add two cups of apple cider vinegar to a bathtub of warm water and soak for 20 minutes.
Alternatively, mix a solution of one teaspoon of vinegar and one tablespoon of water. Apply the liquid with a cotton ball three times daily (source).
To relieve itching and heal welts, take a comforting oatmeal bath. Mix two cups of ground oatmeal with one cup of baking soda. Add to a bathtub of warm water. Soak for 20 minutes twice daily for symptomatic relief.
Other good choices are helichrysum, myrrh, eucalyptus and oregano essential oils.
8. Dietary modifications to expedite healing
Becoming a label sleuth will help you avoid allergens. Pass on foods containing additives and preservatives such as dyes, sulfites, and benzoates. The most fail-safe diet consists of unprocessed, organic foods.
For two to four weeks, “boycott” suspect foods. Once symptoms diminish, re-introduce one substance at a time. After eating the food, wait three days and watch for any reactions. If none occur, introduce another food. If symptoms arise, bingo! You’ve apprehended a villain.
You can both treat and prevent hives with foods rich in Vitamin C, omega-3 fats, quercetin, and bromelain (source).
- Vitamin C – This nutrient reduces histamine release and speeds its breakdown. Increase your Vitamin C intake with bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and citrus.
- Omega-3 Fats – To relieve symptoms and prevent outbreaks, consume walnuts, flaxseeds, and salmon.
- Quercetin – This plant pigment suppresses the release of histamine. Potent sources are apples, buckwheat, grapes, green tea, onions, parsley, and sage. If hives are severe, you may take a quercetin supplement.
- Bromelain – Complementing quercetin’s anti-inflammatory effects is bromelain. This enzyme, sourced from pineapple stems, quells inflammation and swelling. If you’re in the midst of an outbreak, you may take a bromelain supplement.
- Also associated with the anti-inflammatory diet is reducing intake of refined foods and sugar. Harmful bacteria party hearty on these substances.
- Another caveat concerns omega-6 fats. Although essential for health, excessive amounts rev inflammation, setting the stage for hives. Omega-6 fats are present in vegetable oils such as corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, sesame, soy, margarine, and shortening.
How long do hives last in adults?
A single episode of hives can persist for up to six weeks. However, most adults experience symptom resolution within eight to 24 hours.
Chronic urticaria lingers for more than six weeks, most commonly caused by immune malfunction. Duration is determined by your ability to identify the trigger, symptom severity, and treatment effectiveness.
How long do hives last in children?
In children, episodes tend to emerge within 15 minutes to a few hours. They may arise and subside in waves. Illness and food allergies are the most common triggers. The rash typically lasts one to two days but can recur over several weeks, even though an allergen has since been avoided.
How long do hives last in babies?
Typical sources of hives in babies are food allergy, synthetic dyes, and infections. Duration ranges from a few hours to five days. Bring a child with widespread hives to a pediatrician. Also, speak with a doctor if hives last more than one week.
Hives provoked by medications can erupt within minutes of a first dose and up to 10 days after stopping. They can persist for roughly two weeks.
In case of anaphylaxis…
The sudden, severe signs of anaphylaxis occur within minutes of allergic contact. If this emergency situation is not promptly treated, it can be fatal. Hospital care includes an injection of epinephrine, rapidly resolving symptoms. If caused by food allergy, a second episode is possible one to four hours later.
If you suspect a food allergy…
To confirm a suspected food allergy, try an elimination diet for up to one month. To expedite healing and prevent recurrence, adopt an anti-inflammatory diet.
Consume foods high in Vitamin C, omega-3 fats, quercetin, and bromelain while reducing sugar, refined products, and omega-6 fats. Become a label sleuth to avoid additives and preservatives, such as dyes, sulfites, and benzoates.
Try natural remedies for hives
Effective natural remedies for hives include:
- Topical baking soda
- Apple cider vinegar
- Aloe vera
For additional natural remedies to treat hives, refer to this Optiderma blog.
Although hives are distressing, they’re generally not life-threatening. With some detective work, you’ll likely prevent their recurrence. If an allergic reaction does occur, follow the above action plan. Have natural remedies on hand for timely treatment. If you’ve ever had an anaphylactic reaction, always carry three EpiPens. Adopt the Girl Scout motto, “Be prepared!”
How long do hives last for you? Did you know that Emmy Award-winning actress Vicki Lawrence had chronic idiopathic urticaria? Watch this video and share your own story too!