hives without the bees + the race card on TV

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Unrelated. It’s the first word that strikes me for this post. I have two totally unrelated items to share. The first of which involves hives on Kind Sir’s sweet face (neck, one area on his back, hands and forearms). We first noticed them, I want to say when I picked him up at school. My eyesight is for shit, so to me, his red cheek just looked flushed, as if he’d just been running  or was hit in the face with a dodgeball (this happened to me more than once in my adolescence). I didn’t think much of it. Then we went swimming in our backyard. I mention that it was our backyard and not the main country club pool because our backyard pool isn’t heated, so we braved it in frigid waters. When he swam into my arms, and I held him, I felt bumps on his face, tried to inspect them, but he wiggled free. I left it alone. Then came a clean bean bubble bath. Phil came home and noticed the red, too.

Upon further inspection, I realized that it had gotten much worse. Now the bumps were hives, some skin colored, some red, growing in size. I went over the food he’d eaten that day: matzoh made at school, almonds, ten mini chocolate chips, hummus, carrots, milk, rice cereal, turkey. Nothing unusual for him at all. We called his teacher, who assured us he hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary. But you never can tell what he’s stuffing into himself—our boy’s signature self-soothing comfort move is to suck his thumb while picking his nose, single handed. We’ve tried to break him of the habit, but until he really wants to stop, we’ve found that it’s become pointless to constantly remind him not to do it. It’s just not working, at all. Though this is most likely unrelated to the hive situation.

Random Hives in Kids

We medicated him with Benedryl once he became really uncomfortable, scratching. The hives cleared up quickly after that. The following day, Phil took the kids swimming in the heated country club pool, and once again, Kind Sir broke into a bad case of hives. Mind you these two instances were the first times he ever had any type of allergy to anything. And he’s done a lot of swimming, and we’ve never had this happen. But I know we can develop allergies, and maybe there’s something about this time of year in Florida? I don’t know. Phil took the kids to Pirate’s Cove, a playground near our home, that has a splashpad / sprayground. Where once again the hives returned. I wonder if it’s chlorine related.

Unrelated to swimming, yesterday we went for Sunday brunch, a buffet of dreams consisting of sausage, bacon, bagels, waffles, French toast… you name it, they have it from pecan pie to creme brule; it’s a food orgy.  As we finished brunch, Lucas climbed into Phil’s lap, and Phil noticed that the hives were coming back. Not all of them, but some were starting to form and grow. Lucas began to scratch. Benedryl yet again came to his rescue. He’s been fine. But I’m now scared to take him swimming… or anywhere.

I google, a basic nightmare, with underlying causes that rhyme with anemia. Perhaps he’s allergic to the cold? So I take an icepack and hold it to his forearm for five minutes, but no hives. I’m getting his ass to the allergist, but I fear they’ll tell me “it could be anything. There’s not much we can do.” I also realize, of course, that this is the least of it. That it could be so, so much worse. I just looked, he has a hive that’s popped up on his wrist just now.

In unrelated news, I received an interesting email about a new series “Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture.” It airs tonight on Anderson Cooper 360°.

“A white child and a black child look at the exact same picture of two students on the playground.
The pictures, designed to be ambiguous, are at the heart of a new study on children and race commissioned by CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°. White and black kids were asked: “What’s happening in this picture?”, “Are these two children friends?” and “Would their parents like it if they were friends?” The study found a chasm between the races as young as age 6.

Overall, black first-graders had far more positive interpretations of the images than white first-graders. The majority of black 6-year-olds were much more likely to say things like, “Chris is helping Alex up off the ground” versus “Chris pushed Alex off the swing.”

They were also far more likely to think the children pictured are friends and to believe their parents would like them to be friends. In fact, only 38% of black children had a negative interpretation of the pictures, whereas almost double – a full 70% of white kids – felt something negative was happening.”

Link to the AC 360° blog

Anderson Cooper 360° airs at 8 &10 pm ET on CNN. Video link from tonight’s segment will be available after the show.



  1. In 8th grade, I developed a histamine problem that resulted in me welting with the slightest touch. My brother loved it because he could take a show with a Nike symbol and press it against my let until the swoosh appeared. Anyway, the doctor gave me some high octane anti-histamine tables and said I’d grow out of it. And I did, by the end of the summer. Perhaps it’s something like that?

  2. Oh BLEEP! Hives suck. Unknown allergies suck. My first experience with hives was when my sweet baby boy was just a tot. I was nursing him, and in an attempt to slim down, having a lot of fruit smoothies, when I got a sinus infection. I made a smoothie of all of my favorite berries, pineapple, yogurt and popped an amoxicillin for my sinus infection. I had this burning sensation on my skin, had a quick bath to wash off whatever was causing the reaction, realized I was breaking out more and more…rushed to have another amoxicillin – then the burning deep down in my ear canals and I realized I was turning into a HIVE!

    It is rude to be allergic to penicillin. I guess many of us of my generation are – it was so overused.

    Sorry about the boy’s hives. My Australian baby nurse would advise putting breast milk on them – but that’s another post, I guess.

    I just want to share one funny thing about my sweet baby boy.

    He called yesterday…”Hey mom…”, I answered “Hey love, how are you?” He said “I don’t feel well. If I come home, will you make me chicken soup?” I replied, “Of course, dolly…come home!”

    Big, awkward, pregnant pause.

    “Mom,….don’t call me dolly”.

    OH how I laughed! He is my dolly….my sweet, precious, darling, adored and perfect dolly.

    Okay – considering he is now 21, 6’6″, an honor’s rock star in college with a perfect 4.0, rides 100 miles on his bike for fun, is a ski-instructor and kayaked for 30 days before hiking 30 days in the Australian outback last summer – maybe dolly isn’t perfectly appropriate. Oh – but I remember him sitting in the tub covered with bubbles – just like your sweet poppet…and it was one minute ago. He will always be my sweet baby. Just as my girlies are. Oh – this motherhood thing ain’t for wimps.

    You are doing great, hon. Think about berries, antibiotics, nuts, citrus fruits, etc. A good allergist can figure it out.

    One more note – my mom is still struggling…tonight an infection has entered our perfect sphere. I’m scared shitless. Dad and I sat with her tonight and I though I wasn’t rocking her in my arms – I was rocking her in my soul. Her voice – her calm – her strength and assurance all throughout my life – well, she is the calm, peaceful, fundamental wave that sustains this village. Damn. Life is fragile.

    1. I am sending good thoughts to you and your family through this difficult time. I sincerely hope that your mother’s health will take a turn for the better — and soon!

    2. Whoa. You don’t just pop an amoxicillin. That is a serious misuse of antibiotics. They’re not over the counter decongestants. What were you thinking?!

  3. There’s an old saying, “When you hear hoofbeats, don’t look for zebras.” I’m sure the allergist will find an allergy and will provide treatment for it.

  4. I know this will sound wacky, but I used to break out in some weird hives when I was little, and a very simple thing helped: desitin. Yeah, the diaper rash stuff.
    It could still just be some run of the mill skin irritation that is being magnified by the cold or the chlorine. Best thing you can do is what you have done: take notes.

    In high school, one day, my right eye swelled completely shut. By coincidence, the same day my sister slammed her finger in the car trunk, so I tagged along to the ER. They had no answers for me, just benadryl.
    YEARS LATER, I noticed that a new zinc oxide cream was giving me hives. Inactive ingredient, white wax. Sure enough, I went back to look at when it was my eye swelled up, and it was right after I got braces: I was allergic to the wax they use to keep the brackets from irritating your mouth.

    Long story short, just keep taking notes. Even things that don’t make sense will make sense eventually.

  5. So sorry to hear about the hives. My daughter recently broke out in mystery hives as well, and after a few days of guessing the cause, I brought her to the doctors. Turns out there’s a thing called viral hives. It has nothing to do with allergies. It’s harmless, minus the itchy hives, and can last anywhere from a few days to four weeks. We gave her some Benedryl medicine until they went away and she’s fine now. I hope this helps calm your nerves!

    p.s. I’ve been following your blog for years and I love your writing. And these pictures are amazing!

  6. Soap? (My husband has allergic reactions to some kinds.)
    Water? (My adult daughter gets a rash on her tummy even from a shower – though not hives. Maybe it’s a chemical that’s present even in tap water. Sea water is the worst.)

  7. We had something similar when my oldest was little-it happened on vacation, at the beach, we finally figured out it was sunscreen. To this day (she is almost 12) we still struggle to find one that doesn’t cause problems. My youngest (now 10) also breaks out in hives in the pool and beach. She will look like she’s been sand-blasted…little tiny angry red ones. (Not the puffy ones like your son had-my oldest got those). We thought it was salt water, but it happened in pools too. No chlorine at the beach…? It’s good to get it checked out, but if it’s something topical, it’s really hard. We figured out with my oldest, it’s probably a binding agent in some of the sunscreens because she has reacted to various things in tubes. Good luck-so not fun! :(

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