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Can Cake Cause Hives?

My son ate some cake at a birthday party and then developed hives. What causes hives? Could it have been the cake?
- Sara

Something in the cake could have caused your son's hives. Hives — raised, itchy patches on the skin—can develop when someone is allergic to something (like foods such as eggs or nuts, bee stings, or medicines) and the body releases a chemical called histamine.

While hives themselves usually go away with time, they can be a sign of a serious allergy. If so, a future allergic reaction could cause more serious problems, like trouble breathing.

See the doctor to figure out what caused your son's hives. If he has a food allergy, it's important to have it diagnosed so that your son can learn to avoid potentially dangerous foods and keep emergency medication (epinephrine) with him at all times.

Give epinephrine and call 911 immediately if your son ever has signs of a severe allergic reaction, such as throat tightness and breathing trouble.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2012