Some allergies are easy to identify by the pattern of symptoms that invariably follows exposure to a particular substance. But others are more subtle, and may disguise as other conditions. Here are some common clues that could lead you to suspect your child may have an allergy.
- Recurring red, itchy, dry, sometime scaly rashes in the creases of the skin, wrists, and ankles.
- Repeated or chronic coldlike symptoms – that last more than a week or two, or develop at about the same time every year. These could include a runny nose, nasal stuffiness, sneezing and throat clearing.
- Nose rubbing, sniffling, snorting, sneezing and itchy, runny eyes.
- Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth and throat. Itchiness is not usually a complaint with a cold, but it is the hallmark of an allergy problem.
- Coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory symptoms. Coughing may be an isolated symptom; increases at night or with exercise are suspicious for asthma.
COMMON ALLERGENS ON THE HOME FRONT
- Dust (contains dust mites and finely ground particles from other allergens such as pollen, mold and animal dander).
- Pollen (trees, grasses, weeds)
- Fungi (including molds too small to be seen with the naked eye)
- Furry animals (cats, dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, and other pets)
- Latex (household articles such as rubber gloves and toys, balloons)
- Foods (cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat and fish)
HOW TO MANAGE ALLERGIC NASAL SYMPTOMS
- Many children are allergic to pollen and mold, both of which are found everywhere outdoors and cannot be completely avoided.
- It’s helpful to use air conditioners, where possible, to reduce exposure to pollen in both your home and your car. Molds are present in the spring and late summer, particularly around areas of decaying vegetation. Children with allergies to molds should avoid playing in piles of dead leaves in the fall.
- Dust mites congregate where food for them (human skin scales) is plentiful. They are especially numerous in upholstered furniture, bedding and rugs. Padded furnishings such as mattresses, box springs, pillows and cushions should be encased in allergen-proof, zip-up covers, which are available through catalogs and specialized retailers. Wash linens weekly, and other bedding such as blankets, every 2 to 3 weeks in hot water. Pillows should be replaced every 2 to 3 years.
MEDICATIONS TO SUPPRESS SYMPTOMS
- Your child’s allergy treatment should start with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a pediatric allergy specialist for additional evaluations and treatments.
- Antihistamines – Help with itchy watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, as well as itchy skin and hives. They may cause drowsiness.
- Decongestants – Help with stuffy nose.
- Nasal Corticosteroids – Highly effective for allergy treatment and are widely used to stop chronic symptoms. Safe to use in children over long periods of time.
- Allergy Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be recommended to reduce your child’s sensitivity to airborne allergens. Not every allergy problem can or needs to be treated with allergy shots, but treatment of respiratory allergies to pollen, dust mites, and outdoor molds is often successful.
COMMON TRIGGERS OF ASTHMA
- Animals (especially cats and dogs)
TOBACCO SMOKE INFECTIONS
- Viral respiratory infections, including colds
- Sinus Infections
OUTDOOR AIR POLLUTION
INDOOR AIR POLLUTION
- Aerosol sprays
- Cooking Fumes
- Smoke (wood fires, wood-burning stoves)
- Food allergies also play a role in about 25 percent of cases of eczema in young children. Wheat, egg, milk, peanut, and soy account for over 90% of food allergies in children.
- Antihistamine medication may be prescribed to relieve the itching, and help break the itch-scratch cycle.
- Long-sleeved sleepwear may also help prevent nighttime scratching.
New non-steroidal anti-inflammatory creams or ointments can be used for itching and redness and decrease the need for steroid creams.
- As long as steroid creams are used sparingly and at the lowest strength that does the job, steroid creams are very safe and effective.
- Soaps containing perfumes and deodorants may be too harsh for children’s sensitive skin.
- Use laundry products that are free of dyes and perfumes and double-rinse clothes, towels and bedding. Avoid fabric softener.
Lukewarm soaking baths without soap are good ways to treat the dry skin of eczema. Gently pat your child dry after the shower or bath to avoid irritating the skin with rubbing. Then, apply moisturizing cream.
- Launder new clothes thoroughly before your child wears them.