What we know as urticaria in children is actually an allergic reaction of the skin. This is not the typical localized reddish coloration, but rather larger lesions or even blisters that are distributed over large areas of the skin.
The allergens, at the origin of these allergic reactions, are variable for each individual. A young child can get hives from a type of dust that in his brother does not trigger anything.
What are the Symptoms of Urticaria in Children?
As we have pointed out, urticaria is a large-scale allergic reaction that occupies large areas of the skin. It occurs shortly after contact with irritating substances found in the environment, clothing, air, soil and animal hair.
Pruritus is one of the main signs of hives. It is an insidious itch that forces you to scratch. This can cause damage because bacteria can enter through the nails and reproduce there. This results in superinfection of the area.
The blisters and swelling of the skin are noticeable, unlike other milder allergic reactions. The edema begins a few hours after exposure and is sometimes immediate, within minutes. It can be a sign of anaphylactic shock.
The size of the affected area varies and there may even be several areas of the body with lesions active simultaneously. Urticaria is common on the face, hands, feet and in the groin area. The trunk of the body is not however free, especially during food allergies.
In addition to the skin manifestations, the associated symptoms are as follows:
- Vomiting and nausea: these come from the same internal allergic process, which causes inflammation of the stomach lining.
- Abdominal pain: sometimes due to a small fever which accompanies it, and other times to the increase of intestinal peristalsis which tries to expel the allergens entered by the digestive tract.
Common causes of childhood allergies
Urticaria in children has various causes. The point of origin is contact with an allergic substance, which manifests itself differently for each individual. Any child who is allergic is for one specific thing. As usual causes we can mention the following:
- Food: there are children allergic to red fruits, others to eggs, as well as to condiments and dressings. Parents usually discover the allergy when the first outbreaks of hives occur after ingestion of the allergen.
- Insects: the bites are a potential source of allergic reaction. In these cases, the stung area becomes inflamed disproportionately and spreads to other areas
- Environmental pollen: With seasonal allergies, the months of fall and spring are the worst for these children. In addition to the skin reaction, they often suffer from coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, and even bronchospasm.
- Infections: in addition to the symptoms specific to the invading microorganism, during infectious urticaria, lesions on the skin are added due to a cross reaction between the immune system and the cells of the human body. Viruses and bacteria can both be responsible
- Medication: Allergy to medication is one of the adverse reactions. The notices contain information and warnings on this subject. Indeed, often it is not an allergy to the active principle, but rather to the excipients used in the tablets or the syrups to market them.
- Perfumes: Cosmetics and perfumes can be extremely irritating to the skin. There are formulations designed for children, but even so, if the skin is too sensitive, it will react.
How to treat urticaria in children?
Once the clinical picture of urticaria is established in children, antiallergic drugs should be administered in order to counteract the symptoms. It is possible to accompany these treatments with some home remedies as well. The combination of the two options is the best.
Among allergy medications are antihistamines. Diphenhydramine and loratadine are the two most widely used active ingredients. They help relieve pruritus and reduce redness of the skin.
Some induce a side effect: drowsiness. Therefore, in very young children, such as infants, they are generally not recommended. Although in extreme cases, they are used with caution in minimal doses.
Depending on the extent of the urticaria, it may be necessary to add corticosteroids to the treatment. Paediatricians assess in each case whether the benefit outweighs the risk. When given over a limited period of time, they should not cause long-term problems. On the other hand, intravenous or intramuscular use is reserved for urticaria which transform into anaphylactic shock. Which is rare.
Other house tips…
As for home remedies, the preparations are varied. The availability of ingredients for making compresses relieving local symptoms, especially pruritus, depends on each outbreak.
However, the easiest way to do it at home is to apply cold. The low temperature reduces inflammation and redness, which lessens the allergic reaction. With antihistamines and corticosteroids, the process is slowed down enough to provide relief.
In addition, as a preventive measure, once we know the allergens responsible for urticaria in children, they should be avoided. Likewise, conditioning the bedroom of allergic children is essential. For this, it is advisable to replace rugs and duvets with fabrics that do not accumulate mites. A dehumidifier is also a good idea to reduce ambient dust.
If the urticaria is caused by food, it is sufficient to remove the allergen in question from the child’s diet. For infants, and up to the age of two, certain substances are prohibited as a precaution, such as strawberries, because they are known to be powerful allergens.
Always consult a pediatrician
The different forms of urticaria should be evaluated by a pediatrician. These are not just allergic reactions. For this, a professional approach is needed to identify the causes and reduce the symptoms.
Finally, if these reactions occur repeatedly, one should be very alert to the possibility of anaphylactic shock. This is a life-threatening emergency that must be treated in hospital. The ideal is therefore to prevent in order to avoid more serious complications.