5 Year Old with Hives

Updated on October 10, 2010
M.P. asks from Washington, NJ
14 answers

Two days ago, one of my 5 yr old girls complained that she was itchy. When I looked at her, it looked like she had little bug bites all over her. My husband had just read an article about bed bugs, so I was completely freaked out that we were infested. But I couldn't figure out how only one kid could be affected. We realized a day later that they were hives when we almost literally watched them appear on her. Now we can not figure out why she is getting them. She just turned 5 and has no previous allergies that we are aware of. None of either of our families has any. I have read that a milk allergy can manifest as hives, but would that kind of allergy show up so late? I was also thinking maybe a dog allergy. We got a new dog about 3 months ago. Has anyone experienced a dog allergy with hives? I am not sure what to do, they seem to be getting worse, when they come. I was going to cut milk out of her diet for today to see if that helped, but she broke out in hives right after she woke up. She said she did pet the dog and he licked her before it happened. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the advice so far! I have not used any new detergents, lotions or shampoo. The body wash I use on all the kids is frangrance & dye free. I can't think of any new foods she has tried, just the same stuff she has been eating for years. While she gets a few hives on her torso, face and arms, they are the worst from her waist down, mostly all around her thighs. I did give her benydral when we first realized what they were and that does seem to give her relief. I just wish I could figure out what is causing them. I'm the kind of person who needs concrete answers! :) Though I know I probably won't get them. If they continue through the weekend I will call the pediatrician next week and see what they recommend. Please keep the suggestions coming!

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answers from New York on

I get hives if I eat too many strawberries or tomatoes. I also get them if I pet my cat or touch hay. Sometimes I will get one or two for no reason at all. Since you just got the dog I would suspect him. Tell her not to pet the dog or let him lick her

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answers from Las Vegas on

my son recently had hives... out of the blue.. (albeit, I have had them MANY times before)
things like stress can definitely bring them out and or chemical products.. such as new shampoo? they aren't just food related and often, hive need to run their course, meaning... they don't always go away in a day, at times it can take weeks.. that said... I find drinking lots of water to be helpful..
additionally, why she may not be allergic to your dog perse, do you walk the dog? could be that which is attaching itself to the dog's fur.. e.g. pollen..
so it's important that if you take the dog out, ESPECIALLY on a high pollen day.. you clean its fur.. that is to say, IF that is what she might be allergic to..
also.. yes, it's typical to awaken with hives being worse after you've slept. that's because our bodies often warm up while under the covers and the hives LOVE heat... which leads me to... don't take too warm a bath, this will also make hives flare up.. try a mildly warm bath NO soap .... additionally... consider the detergent you are using on her bedsheets.. once you have hives although you may not be allergic to things such as soap, it still can exascerbate the hive problem.. Basically, you want to keep the skin as chemical free as possible and the diet as clean as possible.... don't give the hives anything to thrive on...
best of luck
p.s. we did give our son a little Benadryl.. while I hate to give meds... in some cases, you might need them... check with your doctor first..



answers from Chicago on

One of my girls started to get hives around 4 or 5 yrs old. They came out of no where. We cut some foods, stopped other things. We would watch when they showed up. Just seemed to happen, no real cause. I think it was for about a year and then they just never came back.


answers from Cincinnati on

It's not necessarily just a milk or dairy thing. If they are coming up that quickly though, it is likely it is something she ate or drank. You will need to figure out what she's eating. Is something different? That happened to me with cake icing. I bought a different brand one time and I started breaking out into terrible hives.

If they're not too too bad yet, benadryl will help with the itching & puffiness. If they get too far though, you're looking at a trip to the doc, maybe even urgent care (what I ended up having to do). She will need a shot & then meds to take to get it to go down. IF they go far enough, it could start effecting her breathing & such so you want to be really careful & watch watch watch.



answers from New York on

Interesting. My daughter who is allergic to dogs, is only allergic to some breeds. If they lick her she get hives. The one the is the worst for her is a boxer. Get her tested from an allergist who can so the skin testing. It does not hurt at all.

My daughter also has food allergies that we did not know about until she was 5. (all tree nuts and peanut)

Sometimes my mom gets hives for no reason at all - going on her whole life. So who knows maybe it's nothing.


answers from Modesto on

My son was 4 and broke out in hives really bad right after I shampooed the carpets in the house.



answers from New York on

If your child has hives, and they are getting worse, you need to take her to the doctor rather than trying to figure out on your own what is causing them. There's no need to cut out food groups or get rid of a dog or anything like that until you find out the medical reason for the hives. This is a medical issue and needs a doctor's attention



answers from New York on

Hi, first thing to do is see her pediatrician. It really can be from anything and allergies can show up at any time. My son used to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until he decided to stop around 3 years old. Around a year later, we found out he had severe nut allergies which started out mild with hives and progressed to be much more serious.
My friend's son is allergic to dogs and there are 2 types of allergies there - one is the dander which is more airborne and can be made worse, believe it or not, when you vacuum because it brings all of the allergens up into the air. See if there is any corrolation with that. The other type is the contact which is from the dog licking and that could blow right up. Given the timing of getting the dog and waking up with the allergies, it does sound like it could be the dog. I have a dog so I know that would be awful but you need to check it out. They can easily do tests to see if it's the dog, food, etc.
The dairy allergy takes a little longer and is a little more involved than testing for the pets and food.
But please see the pediatrician right away so it doesn't become more serious and go into her throat. Allergies can be very serious and I didn't realize that at first.
One other thing I've learned, once they have an allergic reaction, the histamines are floating around the body and then anything can set them off so I was told not to give my son strawberries whenever he had had a reaction because that could trigger the reactions to be worse.
Good luck



answers from New York on

Last fall my then 2 year-old daughter broke out in hives for the first time & it turned out it was virus related. It wasn't until I talked to the pediatrician that I even noticed other symptoms bc they were so mild. Since then it has only happened one other time - again when she had virus symtpoms (slight fever, stuffy nose) & the hives came & went for abt a week.Just a thought! Hope your daughter feels better soon! - E.



answers from Albany on

Get to the doctor immediately; don't play around with hives.


answers from Sharon on

did you recently change laundry soups or powders? that can do it. did you change what she bathed in? that can do it to. she may be allergic to the dog but hope this helps



answers from Chicago on

I would start her on Benadryl - talk with your ped first, to get the right dosage based on her weight. Benadryl is important to STOP the allergic reaction and stop her body from creating more histamines...this is how the body "reacts" to an allergen. Histamines build in the body making the reaction, potentially worse as time goes on. So it's important to stop the reaction with Benadryl ASAP.

If you suspect it's the dog, keep them away from each other. Specifically no touching, licking, etc. It sounds a little strange that you've had the dog for months and this is just starting tho. But maybe it's the saliva. Vacuum up the main areas your child will be, just in case it's the dander from the dog too. Keep the dog out of those areas for now. Open the windows and see if you can "air out" your house right now.

Anytime your daughter gets the hives or comes in contact with the dog, I'd get her in the shower or tub immediately. Warm, not hot water. Hot water can aggravate the itching. Pat dry, don't rub.

It does sound like some type of systemic allergic reaction. A simple contact rash would (I believe) be localized to the area of contact - if the dog licked her face, then you'd see a streak of hives where the saliva touched her.

Just know that if she's breaking out like this, the next allergic reaction can become worse that it first presents. She CAN develop itchy, watery eyes, nose, ears, breathing problems - coughing, raspy voice, itchy throat, and swelling.

Since you don't know what's causing it eliminate ANYTHING new to her right now. If you think it's contact with the dog, start there. Start the Benadryl after talking with your ped. And track ALL her foods. If you notice her getting hives or them getting worse, track backwards to see what she's eaten, touched, or whatever "just" happened.

It could be food, the dog, environmental, etc. It's a process of elimination at this point.

If I were you, I'd make an appt with a pediatric allergist or see your ped soon. They can do a simple blood test or in office "scratch test" to see possibly what she's allergic to. At least then you'd "know" if it's the dog or milk or something else. For me, the not knowing is the hardest. If it's a simple test, it's worth finding out now.



answers from Minneapolis on

good timing, I just took my daughter to the allergist for hives. she was getting them daily and all over her whole body, couldn't find anything to 'cause' them. i also suspected dog, because we had got a new dog and the allergist said if hives is from dog/grass/etc, it would be immediate and every single time and only in the area that touched whatever it is. she said it was doubtful to be from food, and her turned out to me just sort of her system forgot to "turn off the hives" - if that makes any sense. so she was put on zyrtec and once she goes 3 weeks without any hives we will start to decrease/ween her off, if she gets them again, we will start the process over. hope that helps.


answers from Hartford on

It sounds like a "contact dermatitis" - that is, she is coming into contact with some that is giving her an allergic reaction. Usually hives from food allergies primarily appear on the trunk of the body and she likely would have other symptoms (e.g., diarrhea, gas, upset stomach,...). Allergies can develop and some people do get stress a hives as another mom pointed out. Unfortunately, with the weather change, this is the time when dogs do a lot of shedding and their dander gets everywhere. It is the dander that often causes an allergic reaction. You should take her to an allergist to be sure. It is possible the allergy may go away with time, but until then, you can give her some benadryl.
Good luck,

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