Skip to content

    First Aid & Emergencies

    Font Size

    Hives and Angioedema Treatment

    Call 911 if the person has:

    • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
    • Tightness in the throat or a feeling that the airways are closing
    • Hoarseness or trouble speaking
    • Swollen lips, tongue, or throat
    • Nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting
    • Fast heartbeat or pulse
    • Anxiety or dizziness
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Had severe reactions in the past

    Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), including:

    If the person has an epinephrine injection kit (Auvi-Q or Epi Pen)available, do not hesitate to use the epinephrine auto-injector, even if those symptoms do not appear to be allergy-related. Using the pen as a precaution is safe and could save his or her life.

    See Severe Allergic Reaction Treatment.

    1. Avoid the Trigger

    • Hives and angioedema that happen suddenly are usually triggered by an allergic reaction to a food, drug, or insect bite or sting.
    • If you know what the trigger is, keep the person away from it.

    2. Control Itching and Swelling

    • Give an adult an over-the-counter antihistamine. Check with a doctor before giving an antihistamine to a child.
    • Put a cool compress on the area or have the person take a cool shower.
    • Avoid strong soaps, detergents, and other chemicals that can make itching worse.

    3. Follow Up

    • It may take several days for the trigger substance to leave the body. Continue treatment until symptoms subside.
    • If symptoms persist, or to help identify the allergen that caused the hives, see a doctor.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on November 27, 2015

    First Aid A-Z

    • There are no topics that begin with 'O'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Q'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'U'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'X'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Y'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Z'

    Today on WebMD

    blue flames
    The right way to treat them.
    Wound paste into a cross
    8 essentials for car or purse.
    cpr demonstration
    4 steps for adults.
    bagged salad
    Learn when to call a doctor.
    sniffling child
    wound care true or false
    caring for wounds
    Harvest mite

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    WebMD the app

    Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

    Find Out More