Allergies are caused by allergens that may be something your child inhales, eats, touches or has injected into them (medication or stings). Allergic rhinitis is caused by breathing in something you are allergic to. The inside of the nose becomes swollen and inflamed resulting in runny nose, sneezing, watery itchy eyes and cough from post-nasal drip. Children commonly have dark circles under their eyes called ‘allergic shiners’ and often push up their nose due to itching called the ‘allergic salute’. This can even cause them to have a horizontal crease on their nose. Indoor and outdoor allergens can cause allergic rhinitis.
Outdoor allergens are likely to be mold or pollen from trees, grass or weeds. Indoor allergens are likely to be dust mites, indoor molds, animal dander or cockroach. Tree pollen tends to cause spring symptoms, while grass and weed pollen allergies lead to summer symptoms. If your symptoms occur in late summer or early fall it is likely ragweed. Year round symptoms are often caused by the indoor allergens. Allergy testing can help pinpoint your triggers.
Tips to Help with Allergies
If you think your child has allergic rhinitis try: • Giving your child a bath and shampoo before bed so any pollens that are on your child are washed off and not further rubbed into his or her face overnight.
• Covering pillows and mattresses in plastic covers to keep out dust mites and washing sheets weekly in hot water. Removing carpet and stuffed animals.
• Washing pets weekly and keeping them out of children’s bedrooms.
• Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine like Claritin or Zyrtec.
• Seeing your pediatrician if these measures don’t help. Children with allergic rhinitis may also suffer from hives, eczema, asthma, food allergies or contact dermatitis. Your pediatrician can help alleviate the symptoms from these disorders.
Dr. Judith Grossberg