Children’s allergies 101

Get a basic understanding of allergies, colds and how they both can affect your child.

What are allergies?

An “allergy” is an exaggerated reaction of your immune system to otherwise harmless substances (allergens from pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mold). When your child comes into contact with these allergens, your child’s body confuses them with harmful substances and attacks them by releasing chemicals such as histamine into the body. This histamine causes your child to experience allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, or itchy throat. Allergies are never contagious, but they often run in the family.

Outdoor seasonal allergies versus indoor year-round allergies

Outdoor seasonal allergies describe allergies that can come and go as different plants: trees, grasses, or weeds come into season and release pollen into the air. These allergens can be difficult to manage because it seems like they’re everywhere and they’re difficult to avoid. For kids with seasonal allergies, symptoms fluctuate depending on the pollen released into the air by these plants. The pollen level can vary day to day, depending upon several factors, including the weather. Indoor allergies can occur any time of the year and are caused by allergens, from dust mites, mold spores or pet dander These allergens can be difficult to manage, especially since they tend to exist in our homes year-round. Since you’re often indoors during winter, your allergies to household allergens from molds, dust mites, and pet dander can appear to be more active, but in truth indoor allergies can occur all year long.

What are allergy symptoms?

Allergy symptoms happen when your child’s immune system mistakenly attacks a harmless substance like dust or pollen by releasing chemicals such as histamine. These symptoms can be very similar to classic cold symptoms, which is why it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between the symptoms of a cold versus allergies.

In general, signs or symptoms of children's allergies may include:

Runny nose

With allergies, nasal discharge is usually thin, clear, and watery.

Sneezing

(often several times in a row) Colds and allergies both cause sneezing.

Allergy eye

Symptoms include irritated, red, itchy, or watery eyes.

Allergic shiners

Dark, swollen bags under the eyes.

Allergic salute

Frequent upward rubbing of the nose that can last more than 2 weeks. This rubbing can lead to an "allergic crease" or line at the bridge of the nose.

Mouth breathing

Can be caused by nasal congestion due to allergies or a cold.

Nasal congestion

Nasal congestion is a stuffy nose due to swollen nasal passages.

What is a cold?

Although allergies share many of the same symptoms as colds, colds are different. A cold occurs when a virus gets into your child’s body and his or her immune system attacks it—this causes some of the same sneezing and nasal congestion as the symptoms of allergies. But there are some key differences. For one thing, colds are contagious. A child can become infected when someone sneezes, coughs, or touches him or her.

Luckily, cold symptoms tend to disappear in 7 to 10 days. If cold symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, consider contacting your doctor.

Tools for the first signs of allergies

PEDIATRICIAN QUESTIONS

If you want to talk to your doctor about your child’s allergies, here are some questions you might want to ask. Download the editable PDF and feel free to add/remove questions, personalizing it to your child’s needs.

DOWNLOAD PDF

SYMPTOM TRACKER

An easy way to track your child’s daily symptoms to help your doctor assess what may be causing their allergies. Download the editable PDF to start documenting your child’s symptoms today!

DOWNLOAD PDF
Today's Pollen Forecast
City, State 606081
low-medium
See full forecast

Information provided by Pollen.com

You May Like

Package image of Children’s Claritin® Chewables 24-Hour, grape flavored. For ages 2 years and older.

Children’s Claritin® Chewables 24-Hour

Non-drowsy chewables in grape and bubblegum flavors offer all-day allergy relief for kids on the go.

Chewables iconChewables 24HR
Package image of Children’s Claritin® Syrup 24-Hour, grape taste. For ages 2 years and older.

Children’s Claritin® Syrup 24-Hour

This non-drowsy syrup has a kid-approved great taste and is dye-free, sugar-free, and alcohol-free.

Syrup iconSyrub 24HR
Package image of Claritin® RediTabs® for Juniors 24-Hour. For ages 6 years and older.

Claritin® RediTabs® 24-Hour for Juniors

Non-drowsy tablets melt in your kid’s mouth without water for all-day allergy relief on the go.

RediTabs® iconRediTabs® icon

Tools for the first signs of allergies

PEDIATRICIAN QUESTIONS

If you want to talk to your doctor about your child’s allergies, here are some questions you might want to ask. Download the editable PDF and feel free to add/remove questions, personalizing it to your child’s needs.

DOWNLOAD PDF

SYMPTOM TRACKER

An easy way to track your child’s daily symptoms to help your doctor assess what may be causing their allergies. Download the editable PDF to start documenting your child’s symptoms today!

DOWNLOAD PDF