34 answers


My 4 year old son starting breaking out with hives a week ago. I called the doctor, who told me more than likely it's an allergic reaction to something. I could bring him in, but all they would be able to do is confirm they are hives, if he has the hives at that time. She said my best bet is to investgate and try to figure out what is causing the hives. That was last Tuesday. The hives seem to come and go. I haven't switched deteregent, soaps, or introduced any new foods. My son has never show signs of allergies before this, and neither my husband or I have allergies.
It is really hard to try to pinpoint what is causing this. Just wondering if there is anyone out there with thoughts on this? I have been giving him benedryll when he has an outbreak. Seems to be only 1 or 2 times a day. Besides the hives he has not been complaining of anything. The doctor told me as long as he's not having trouble breathing or swollowing I don't need to worry, but we all know how hard that is!

Any and ALL thoughts would be appreciated!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

THANK YOU!!! It is nice to know that other children experience the same issues. It is also nice to have fresh ideas other than mine and my husband.
This morning no hives, so we'll see how the day goes. I wanted to comment on a few things people had posted. I have been using the dye-free benadryl. It isn't 5th diease, I have seen that before. His hives look like welts that are red or have red around them. We do have a family dog, it is strictly and outdoor dog. We've had her since before my son was born, but lately he has been playing with her more and hugging on her more. I definitely think that could be a possiblity so I am trying to limit his contact with her. I also have noticed it seems the hives tend to show up at night, first thing in the morning, and after he's been playing hard. It could be what some of you posted about with his temperature rising.
He still hasn't complained, but I'm just going to keep writing things down and hopefully they will go away soon. I really do appreciate all the suggestions! THANK YOU!

Featured Answers

Are they true hives or possibly bug bites? fleas, bed bugs, ants outside, etc. or even an allergic reaction to mosquitoes or the other mentioned bugs. My daughter gets a hyper reaction to any bug bite, really looking like welts. Has he been rolling in new mulch (playing trucks etc)or playing near chemical lawns. The weather is getting better and I am thinking of external causes rather than internal (food allergies etc). Good luck!

Have you bought him any new clothes at Wal Mart?
My sister bought a pair of pants and she broke out both times she tried to wear them. Even after she had washed them once. She had to make 2 trips to the emergency room. She got rid of the pants and has had no trouble since. B. H, Indiana Hope this helps you out!

Hi, i have been a friend of hives and my son had them once as a baby. I had them 2 yrs. ago for almost a year. I found that stress is a huge cause of hives> I went to the doctor and they wanted to put me on anti dpress. i didnt take them but once i got rid of some of the stress they finally went away ,what a irritable thing to deal with. Clariton and benydryl saved me..........

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If there have been no new foods introduced or no changes in detergents or anything then he may just have a viral infection. Viral infections can cause hives. It is nothing to worry about and if it is a viral infection the hives will clear up when the virus is gone. There is nothing the doctor can do with a virus anyway. Antibiotics are for bacterial infections. It is just a matter of time before they clear up. Go ahead and keep giving him the benedryl though. That will help if they bother him. My youngest had a viral infection that caused him to break out in hives. I took him to the doctor and that's all it was and it took about 3 wks. but they went away.

I am 31 and have been married for almost 12 yrs. My husband and I have 3 boys ages 10,7 and 4.

My 2 year old daughter started getting hives in January. The pediatrician said that if it lasted more than 6 weeks to see an allergist. SOme days would be worse than others. After 6 weeks I made an appointment with an allergist. He said that 98% of the time you will never find the cause of the hives so it is not worth the testing. It's called idiopathic urticaria (hives). He put my daughter on Zyrtec and Zantac and it really has helped. I have still been trying to figure out what the cause is, but it is so difficult. The allergist also said that over 50% of the time it will disappear within 2 years.

My 11 y/o daughter is going through the same thing. I am 99% sure hers are related to stress. Our Dr. put her on Zyrtec (regular not Zyrtec-D). They make a brand that is specifically for Hives and one that is for allergies. At the same time my 4 1/2 y/o was having some allergies for the 1st time in her life! He also recommended Zyrtec. I did buy the regular Zyrtec for allergies and gave it t both my daughters and it has helped immensely. I don't give it eveyday, only when needed and it is only a once a day medication so you don't have to re-dose every 4 hours like the benadryl. It doesn't make either one of my daughters drowsy or hyper. Good luck!

Are they true hives or possibly bug bites? fleas, bed bugs, ants outside, etc. or even an allergic reaction to mosquitoes or the other mentioned bugs. My daughter gets a hyper reaction to any bug bite, really looking like welts. Has he been rolling in new mulch (playing trucks etc)or playing near chemical lawns. The weather is getting better and I am thinking of external causes rather than internal (food allergies etc). Good luck!

My son is 4 and gets heat rash still like when he was a baby and he also gets a rash from the sun. I have to use special sunscreen on him so that he doesn't break out from the sunscreen. It has to be all organic. Has he been in the sun? Best of luck!

Hi M.. I have an 8yr. Old daughter who has went through something simular two times. The first time she was 4. We thought for 4 years she had an allergic reaction to cephalexin(an antibiotic). She was covered from head to toe in lacey like red splotches that were very itchy. We would give her benadryl but that only helped with the itching for a little bit. They would never disappear. It took 3 weeks for those ones to go away. This past october she started breaking out again really bad again. I took her to the doctor again, and this doctor also thought it was an allergic reaction. She put her in the hospital for 5 days and gave her very high doses of steroids. The steroids didnt work either. My mother looked up her syptoms in a medical book and she determined it looked like fifths disease. I asked the doctor and he said no shes to old. On the 4th day in the hospital, she still had them full force. A skin doctor came in and said that she had fifths disease. Since my mom diagnosed it first, dr. Fondak did not charge us for his visit. You might want to either take him to a dermatoligist or look up fifths disease on the internet. We learned that the first time she had it when she was 4, that it was fifths disease also. Good luck!

I have a 6 year old that started breaking out in hives this past Thanksgiving. He had them on his mouth, then on his arm and then on his feet. We couldn't figure it out. He didn't have anything new to eat and he has no known food allergies. After a few days, we finally figured it out...cranberries. He has eaten cranberry sauce many times and loves cranberry juice. We figured out that it is only whole cranberries! Who would have guessed that he could drink the juice and eat the sauce, but not be able to eat actual berries. The only reason we were able to figure it out was because he had spilled it on himself and it touched his arm and feet when it fell. Otherwise, we wouldn't have gifured it out so quickly. Good luck figuring it out...I think it's all about trial and error, unless you go to an allergist!

Hi, i have been a friend of hives and my son had them once as a baby. I had them 2 yrs. ago for almost a year. I found that stress is a huge cause of hives> I went to the doctor and they wanted to put me on anti dpress. i didnt take them but once i got rid of some of the stress they finally went away ,what a irritable thing to deal with. Clariton and benydryl saved me..........

Have you bought him any new clothes at Wal Mart?
My sister bought a pair of pants and she broke out both times she tried to wear them. Even after she had washed them once. She had to make 2 trips to the emergency room. She got rid of the pants and has had no trouble since. B. H, Indiana Hope this helps you out!

Although you may not have changed detergents or anything your little boy's skin may have changed. He may have just developed an allergy to the laundary soap you use. Try switching it for his clothes. If the hives go away and don't come back you know what he's allergic to. My mom used the same brand of mascara for 10 years. One morning she went to put it on (a tube that she had already opened & used so it wasn't brand new) and her eyes swelled shut. She to this day can't use that brand anymore. She just developed an allergy to it so I know it can happen. Good luck M.!

Try removing just one thing at a time to see if it clears up. I would start with something that you know many people are allergic too, such as peanuts, dairy or coconut. It's a long process, but my nephew was terribly allergic to coconut and they had to go through lotions, shampoo, soaps..as well as food that had coconut oil in it. He might grow out of it, but it's still worth trying to figure out in case he gets a serious overdose sometime and it does interfere with his breathing.

Hope this helps!!

Any chance that he has 5th disease? That cause a hive like rash all over their body that can last for several weeks. It will seem to get worse as they get warm or with sun exposure. Once it goes away it should stay away but it may take awhile. My daughter had it very early at 1.5 years. Usually kids have it once they start preschool. Good luck!


When I was 4, we moved to a new home. I got hives. The doctor said I was apparently so excited that I triggered them myself. I do not have allergies, except to penicillin, the house did not have weird contaminants, and no soaps or anything else was changed. The hives were everywhere and so extensive they were inside my nose, in my ear canals, and on the bottoms of my feet! It did not take long for the hives to go away, and they did not return, although I think I had another excitement-based batch of hives later when I was 8 or so. And just so you know, I am not a high-strung nervous type, either. I hope there is no other cause for your son's reaction.

Best wishes,

Dear Mellisa, just a quick note, none of the 3 of us,( my Husband, Myself, or our youngest) profess to have allergies, but this year has been killer so far, my 5 year old walks around with a tissue for his nose, I have a sneezing, itchy all over feeling, and for the first time ever, itchy eyes. The pollen has been worse than just about forever. Maybe that is it? I would investigate further, but I have talked to SO many who have symptoms this year that never did before. Good Luck, and I would get the epi-pen if possible, just because. God Bless, A.

We had the same thing happen to our 5 year old son last Friday. He still has some hives but they do seem to come and go. Our doctor gave us some Claritin samples and it seems to help quite a bit. We don't know what is causing it either but the Dr. suggested it might be a sort of tree pollen because apparently that has been pretty bad this season. We do have several mature trees in our neighborhood and there is one at my son's school playground as well. The only other thing that we think it might be is this little stuffed animal that we got from a happy meal it is like a miniture beanie baby penguin and our son loves it but we've noticed since we put it up on a shelf his hives seem to be occuring less frequently... it could also be the medicine or just the fact that time has passed but for now at least we are keeping "Waddle" (that's the name of this stuffed beanie) out of reach.

Good luck!

Do you have indoor /outdoor pets ? If so it could be flea bites.They get me every chance they can and it looks like hives before I scratch. Once I scratch they swell up and itch 5 times more.
It could be pollen from a weed or tree doing it.
Do you have new carpeting ? there are all kinds of awful chemicals that folks are allergic to in new carpeting.Always wash new clothes first also, the material is sprayed with chemicals also.
Good luck, I hope you find the problem soon.

My oldest son use to break out in hives after he had been sick with a virus. The hives lasted for at least 2 weeks and he missed several days of school. Just a thought but hives can show up after you think the illness is gone. Also some immunizations have a delayed reaction. Could be food allergies or something new to his environment. Stress can create hives too. Hope this helps :)

Hi M.,

What about animals, has he been around any lately, when I was younger that's what made me break out in hives and they gave me a shot of benedryl at the ER but you can also take the benedryl allergy medicine, I believe they have childrens also, might be worth a try and ease his itching!

Has he been playing outside? Sometimes we develope a reaction to something quite suddenly and you are correct it is hard to pin it down. Pollen, Mold, Mildew, grass, certain weeds, etc.
Does he have fair skin? My 10 year old boy developed some rashes about 4 years ago and we ended up at a Dermetologist. He told me the child has extremely frail skin and is very fair completed which will cause him to have hives from time to time with no apparent cause. I found it hard to believe as he has dark hair, dark eyes, and tans very quickly. The doctor warned me to make sure he uses sun screen when he goes outside starting in April through October to protect him. Try telling a 10 year old boy to put on sun screen all of the time!
He could have 5th disease, it causes a rash that looks like hives and lasts for a couple of weeks, generally. We have had that too.
Either way hives are not something to mess with. The first time I broke out with them I had them internally before they finally broke out externally and I almost died. Two shots of adrenalin and two shots of hydrocortisone and a lot of benedryl in a 5 hour span to keep my heart beating. I'm not trying to scare you, but you may need to be persistant and see an allergist just to be sure.
P. R

Hi M.,

You need to take your son to see an allergist. What starts out as hives can turn into a life-threatening food allergy. Or, it could be an environmental allergen causing the hives. My daughter has a severe allergy to peanuts/tree nuts, and it started out as hives. The last reaction she had landed us in the emergency room because she was going into anaphylactic shock. I don't mean to scare you, but I think you need to be really assertive with his doctor and find out what is causing the hives.

My daughter had hives a few months ago, and the Doctor said they can be caused by a virus and like the virus, you just have to wait them out!

I have children with food allergies. I would suggest you have him checked for food allergies by either an allergist or a chiropractor that works with herbs. If it is an allergy, the chiropractor can give you herbs to heal the body. Dr. Jones in Lima is good for this. Some of my kids ate things for a while before reacting to them. My one son was turning 2 when he almost died from an allergic reaction to eggs. He'd been eating them for quite a while already with no reaction.

Did anyone suggest it might be some kind of environmental allergy? It is allergy season, after all. Grass, certain plants or flowers, etc. If you say your dog is an outdoor dog and your son's been playing with him a lot, your dog might be getting into something which he's bringing inside with him, then when your son hugs him, it gets on him. Just a thought.
Oh - and about the benadryl. I get really sleepy and groggy when I take that stuff, but when I take claritin (well, the generic type that's cheaper!), I don't feel groggy at all. Also, it's a 24 hour pill - or 12 hours if you give the half dose. It comes in children's formula. I always gave that to my son who had food allergies for a while and it cleared things up within a half hour.
Good luck!
J. B

I had the same problem as a child and my mother spent years trying to figure out what was causing it. She gave me Benadryl, too, and it helped to some degree, but the hives kept coming back.

As it turned out, the Benadryl was part of the problem... or rather, the artificial food dye in the Benadryl was the problem. I'm allergic to artificial food dyes and they give me hives! Things like popcicles, kool-aid, and fruit roll-ups left the house and never came back. We had to start reading food labels for everything.

Try some dye-free Benadryl for the hives, or some Benadryl cream, and see if there isn't a connection to artificial food dyes. Another thing it could be is artifical food preservatives. I developed that allgergy later on as an adult.

Oh my gosh...we are having the EXACT same problem with one of my 1 year old girls. I am racking my brain to figure out what is causing it, and I feel so helpless. We are getting the carpets cleaned and we changed diapers and wipes just to see if it made a difference. But, like you, we hadn't changed anything before she started getting the hives. It is driving me nutty! Please let me know what you find out! :)


HI, M. --

Any chance that a medicine you've given him has a dye or colorant he's never had before? My daughter is allergic to Red Dye #40, which is in almost everything red... INCLUDING children's medications -- which makes me absolutely furious! It's a known allergen and yet they put it in infant meds, as if babies care whether their meds are colored or clear!! We get dye free Benadryl.

She had a TERRIBLE breakout of hives, and it was our pediatrician who suggested the idea that it could be dye related. We'd just had to purchase a bottle of meds that were different from our usual, and they did, indeed, contain red dye #40.

It's in punch, in candy, and even some foods. Check it out!


Being a person with a lot of allergies growing up ( and still), Every seven to ten years your body goes through a change and things you may not have been allergic to before you now could end up having a reaction.

I was pretty close to four years old when I was diagnosed with my hayfever/pollen allergy. It really stinks but hang in there. Watch the daily weather report and see what the pollen, mold spores counts are and keep a chart to see if this is when he reacts. Arm yourself with as much information as you can. Next doctor visit you will have a history for the doctor to look at.
Your child may become immune to the benedryl. It does nothing for me. You may have to try the claritin or something else.

Hang in there! Hope this helps you some!


This same thing happened to me, my sister, my brother, my son, and I am sure that my daughter will have it as well. Here is what we have....Cholinergic urticaria. Check out this link to see if it is what you are looking at on your son. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholinergic_urticaria

It happens when we exert ourselves. I have learned to live with it. Everytime I work out I get it. Watch to see if your son is getting it when he plays hard, covers with blankets, gets sweaty, any time that his temperature rises alittle bit. Hope that helps, let me know.

When my 9 yr. old was a little over two, he started to break out in hives on several occasions. At one time, by the time I took him to the Dr., his hands and feet were swollen. I did the food diary, established no new detergents, etc. We never found out what caused it. He eventually just outgrew it. However, with all my kids, in different stages of toddler-hood to school age, they will break out occasionally. I've seen it prior to or during an illness like a cold or virus. I used to work in an allergy/asthma clinic. I was maybe a little sensitive about anaphylactic reactions, but just to be on the safe side, I asked my pediatrician for an epi-pen~for peace of mind. I just wanted to be sure that I could help them if anything turned serious. Trying to find out what the cause is, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack! You may never find out what it is, and he may outgrow it. As long as you have Benadryl and maybe more importantly, an epi-pen, you can relax? a little :) Good luck!

I suffer from hives. The first thought is the allergies, although I do not have allergies nor does my mom, my dad and brother do but they do not get hives. My daughter has skin so sensitive that she gets a rash, not hives, if the wind blows too hard! Hives can be caused from food, clothing, fibers in the carpet, stuff blowing in the wind and so on. I get hives due to stress. Is there maybe something going on at home? Is there something going on at a friend's house? Did you get a new pet? New carpet? A new car? Almost anything can set mine off. I'm really concerned with the fact that he gets them 1 or 2 times a day! That's weird. Usually when I break out, I get them, they last a week, I'm drugged with Benedryll, sleep most of the week, and then they are gone. I've never had them come and go in the same day or did I read that wrong? If not, take him to the doctors cause that's weird to me. Good luck -H.-

OK.. GET A SECOND OPINION !!!!!!! He has a fresh breakout up to twice per day. You tried to call and they told you most likely nothing can be done except for confirmation of hives. The pollen count this season is the highest it's been in over 100 years. My husband and I have no allergies but our son is highly allergic to grass, pollen, ragweed, dander,, everything.. Hubby and I can bathe in a plastic pollen sack and not be the least bit affected. If these hives pefrsist you need to get him tested for allergies so he can recieve the proper medication.

I have the same problem myself as an adult. After investigation my allergist determined that it is not due to exposure to an allergen. It is a hereditary condition that causes the body to break out in hives with little or no exposure to anything. My body is just very hypersensitive. They know this by doing a blood test that looks at antibodies/immune system. Maybe you could see if your doctor would want to do this test on your son.

I take Allegra on a daily basis to try to prevent random breakouts. And I carry benedryl with me at all times in case of a sudden breakout. He told me that the dissoving tablets or the liquid works faster and better.

There's nothing you can really do to prevent the problem. You can just manage it when it does happen. And get him to ER right away if his throat is swelling.

My 17 month old son gets little red bumps on his legs especially, sometimes on his tummy and back, but not as much. One doctor told me it was eczema, another told me it looked like flea bites... and even when I told him we do not have any fleas (all of our animals are on revolution and none of the other 5 people in our family have ANY bumps). I use
Aveeno on him... not the baby aveeno cream, but the regular aveeno with 1% hydracortisone in it. It also has oatmeal in the cream which is wonderful for itchies. It works great. Now if we could just figure out what is causing this reaction...?

You mentioned that you hadn't changed soaps or anything but I wonder if you or your husband might be using a new cologne or deodorant. That might explain why it comes and goes. If you don't use the same product every day. Also, do you live close to any crop fields? Could be something they are using in the fields. Perhaps he is allergic to a flower you have blooming outside. If he isn't in contact with it every day, that could be why it seems to come and go. Just some thoughts. Hope they help ya. Good luck, Shannon G.

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