Watch Out for the Most Common Allergies in Children | Blank Children's Hospital

little boy sneezing into a kleenex outside

Sneezing, itching, wheezing. Kids’ allergies come in all symptoms and severities, and they’re changing all the time! From weather changes to the contents of school lunches, allergens can be sneaky and lurking all around. Do you know where? Knowing where is important for sleep, play and everything in between. Keep a watchful eye on your child for the signs and symptoms of the most common culprits of kids’ allergies.

Seasonal Allergies in Children

Seasonal allergies, often called “hay fever” or seasonal allergic rhinitis, are the most common form of allergy among children, affecting more than 6 million children each year. Seasonal allergies cause symptoms that occur during seasonal changes, usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses and weeds release pollen into the air. 

Seasonal Allergy Symptoms in Children 

A recurring cold at the same time each year may be a sign that your child has seasonal allergies. Schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor if the following allergy symptoms come on suddenly and persist:

  • Sneezing

  • Itchy nose and/or throat

  • Nasal congestion

  • Clear, runny nose

  • Coughing

These symptoms often come with itchy, watery, and/or red eyes, which is called allergic conjunctivitis. If your child has wheezing and shortness of breath in addition to these symptoms, the allergy may have progressed into asthma.

Seasonal Allergy Treatment in Children

Talk with your doctor if you think your child may have allergies. The doctor will ask about symptoms and when they appear and, based on the answers and a physical exam, should be able to make a diagnosis. If not, the doctor may refer you to an allergist for blood or allergy skin tests.

Skin Allergies in Children

Allergies don’t just cause kids to cough and sneeze! Skin is the body’s largest organ and part of the immune system and can sometimes react to allergens. As many as 10 percent of children around the world have eczema, and countless other children suffer from allergic rashes, hives and swelling.

Signs of Skin Allergy in Children

Skin allergies are categorized by their symptoms and typically fall into one of the three most common forms:

  • Eczema: dry, red, scaly patches

  • Allergic rash from touching something: severe itching; skin redness or rash; thick, scaly leathery patches on the skin that develops over time

  • Hives and swelling: ranging from the size of a pen tip to the size of a dinner plate

Skin Allergy Treatment in Children

Many types of kids’ skin allergies can be treated by keeping skin healthy, moist and clean. If skin allergy persists, a doctor may prescribe a topical steroid cream. Be sure to ask the doctor when and how to safely use it. An antihistamine may also be prescribed to ease the itchiness and help your child sleep.

Food Allergies in Children

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 4-6 percent of children in the United States have food allergies, with young children affected most. Not to be confused with food intolerance, food allergies cause an immune system reaction that affects various organs in the body.   

Most Common Food Allergies in Kids

In the United States, the FDA requires food manufacturers to list in every food product the eight most common ingredients  that trigger food allergies, which contribute to 90 percent of food allergies in children and adults: 

  1. Milk

  2. Eggs

  3. Peanuts

  4. Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)

  5. Fish (bass, cod, flounder)

  6. Shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp)

  7. Soy

  8. Wheat

Food Allergy Symptoms in Children

The location and severity of a food allergy reaction vary with each child. The four most common food allergy categories include: 

  • Skin: hives; eczema; swelling of face or extremities; itching and swelling of the lips, tongue or mouth; other skin reactions

  • Gastrointestinal tract: nausea; vomiting; abdominal pain; diarrhea

  • Respiratory tract: runny or stuffy nose

  • Cardiovascular system: fainting; lightheadedness

Food Allergy Testing in Children

Determining a possible link between a food and allergy symptoms isn’t always easy or obvious. For example, traces of peanut are commonly found in cereal and soy can hide in many frozen meals. Your child may require an allergist to prescribe a combination of an elimination diet, skin testing and blood testing to diagnose a food allergy. Results from testing will be evaluated to deterĀ­mine which food, if any, is the source of the allergy.

Outgrowing Food Allergies

The good news is that it’s common for kids with food allergies to outgrow them. KidsHealth reports:

  • 80 percent of those allergic to milk will eventually outgrow the allergy

  • Two-thirds with allergies to eggs will outgrow the allergy

  • 80 percent of those allergic to wheat or soy will outgrow the allergy by age 5

  • 20 percent of those allergic to peanuts will outgrow the allergy

  • 10 percent of those allergic to tree nuts outgrow the allergy

Kids’ allergies, not just the “achoo” kind, affect millions of children each year. Identifying and avoiding allergy triggers is the best way to shield your child. If you notice symptoms of allergies in your child, use our Find a Doctor tool to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician today.

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