Hives are itchy, red, puffy patches on the skin. Hives may change in size and shape. They may also show up in new places on the body. Hives may be a reaction to something that was eaten, touched, or put on the skin. Hives can also be a reaction to cold, heat, infections, medicine, insect bites, or stress. Hives cannot spread from one person to another.


  • Stay away from what caused the hives, if this applies.

  • To relieve itching and rash:

  • Apply cold packs to the skin. A cool bath may also help. Do not take hot baths or showers. Warm water makes the itching worse.

  • Take medicine to shrink the hives as told by your doctor. This medicine can make you sleepy. Do not drive if you take this medicine.

  • Only take medicine as told by your doctor.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes and underwear.

  • Follow up with your doctor.


  • You have a fever.

  • Your lips or tongue puff up (swell).

  • Breathing or swallowing is hard to do.

  • Throat or chest tightness develops.

  • Belly (abdominal) pain develops.

These may be the first signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction. This is an emergency. Call your local emergency services (911 in U.S.).


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.