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Angioedema (Child)

Allergens (substances that cause allergies) stimulate the body to release chemicals. These chemicals cause inflammation. If this inflammation causes the skin to swell, the condition is called angioedema. Angioedema is similar to hives, but it occurs deeper in the skin.

Allergic angioedema may be triggered by allergies to foods, drugs, latex, or insect stings. It also occurs in children with an infection or autoimmune disorders. Although it is rare, some children have a form of angioedema that is inherited. If your child has this form, the doctor will tell you more about the condition and how to manage it.

Angioedema occurs suddenly, within minutes to hours after exposure to an allergen. Swelling usually appears on the face, lips, mouth, throat, arms and legs, or genitals. The swelling is patchy and asymmetrical. The skin will be red. Hives may also develop. The areas are usually painful and warm, but not itchy. The swelling goes away in a day or two without leaving any marks. In some cases, angioedema can affect the bowels and cause colicky abdominal pain. The throat and airways in the lungs can also become swollen, causing difficulty breathing.

Mild symptoms go away on their own and do not require treatment. Moderate symptoms may be treated with antihistamines and corticosteroids to stop itching and swelling. Abdominal pain may be treated with pain medications. Severe symptoms, such as a swollen throat, are a medical emergency. To help a child who is having trouble breathing, certain invasive procedures may be done to ensure that your child is able to breathe.

Home Care:

Medications: The doctor may prescribe medications for itching, swelling, or pain. Follow the doctor’s instructions when giving these medications to your child.

General Care:

  1. If your child is known to be allergic to something, do your best to avoid it. If the doctor suspects that your child’s angioedema was caused by medication your child takes regularly, he or she will discuss this with you.

  2. Keep a record of what you child may have eaten or been exposed to before the reaction. Note similar reactions in other family members.

  3. Apply cool compresses to areas that are bothersome. This will help reduce any irritation and itching.

  4. Have your child wear loose cotton clothing. This will feel cooler to the skin and absorb moisture.

  5. Have your child take a cool shower or bath. Temperature extremes can trigger a reaction.

  6. Monitor affected areas for signs of infection (see below).

Follow Up

as advised by the doctor or our staff.

Special Notes To Parents:

Mild swelling can be alarming, but it is not usually serious. The swelling will soon heal. It won’t leave any lasting marks.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Difficulties breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, or change in voice

  • Increasing or continuing swelling

  • Lightheadedness

  • Abdominal pain or diarrhea

  • Signs of infection such increasing redness, increasing pain, or foul-smelling drainage


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