Hives and Angioedema Treatment

Call 911 if the person has:

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

Questions to ask your doctor:

  1. Can the reaction happen again?
  2. What's my risk of anaphylaxis, a serious reaction that's sometimes life-threatening?
  3. What insects am I allergic to?
  4. What should I do if I get stung?
  5. Should I carry an epinephrine injection kit (Auvi-Q, Adrenaclick, EpiPen, Symjepi or a generic version of the auto-injector)?

If 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 Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on January 22, 2018



American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Tips to Remember: Allergic Skin Conditions."

Palo Alto Medical Foundation: "Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)."

Kaiser Permanente: "Hives: After Your Visit."

Hives and Angioedema Information from eMedicineHealth.

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