- Infants and Allergies: What Should Parents Watch For?
- Baby Allergies: Prevention & Treatment Tips
- When to Test Your Newborn for Food Allergies
- Common Allergenic Foods
- How to Test Your Newborn
- Only Introduce New Foods at Home
- Be Especially Careful When Introducing Peanut Products
- See an Allergist
- Take Precautions
- The Difference Between Intolerance and an Allergy
- Seasonal Allergies in Babies and Toddlers: Baby Allergies
- Infant allergies: Can babies have seasonal allergies?
- When do seasonal allergies develop in babies?
- What causes seasonal allergies in babies and toddlers?
- More on Allergies and Colds in Kids
- Allergy symptoms in babies and toddlers
- Allergies vs. colds in babies and toddlers
- Can a child have a fever with allergies?
- Can seasonal allergies cause diarrhea in babies?
- Tips to relieve allergy symptoms in babies and toddlers
- What allergy medicines are safe for babies and toddlers?
- Year-round allergies in babies and toddlers
- 11 Gassiness
- 10 Low or No Weight Gain
- 9 Respiratory Problems
- 8 Unusual Looking Eyes
- 7 Puffy or Swollen Eyes
- 6 Constant Sneezing
- 5 Lip Swelling
- 4 Hives
- 3 Skin Redness and Blisters
- 2 Constant Coughing
- 1 Failure to Thrive
- Video: Common Allergies in Babies and How to Handle Them
- What is an Allergy?
- How common are Allergies in Babies?
- Who is at Risk of getting Allergies?
- Allergy vs. Cold
- How Children Get Allergies?
- Diagnosing Allergies in Children?
- Why are Allergies on the Rise in Babies and Children?
- What is an Allergic Reaction and What Happens during that phase?
- What are the Common Allergies in Babies?
- All About Baby Allergies
- Colds vs. Baby Allergies
- Soothing Baby’s Allergy Symptoms
- Preventing Allergies in Babies
- Eye Allergies (Allergic Conjunctivitis)
- Food allergies, Food Allergies Go Away – Outgrowing Food Allergies
- How can I protect my child from allergens?
- Are there any medications that can help my child?
- What about allergy shots?
- What can I do to prevent my child from getting allergies in the first place?
- Infant colds: What’s normal and what’s not
- What causes the common cold?
- What are the symptoms of a cold in an infant?
- Is there anything parents can do to prevent a cold?
- What can a parent do at home to help a child with a cold?
- Is there anything that a parent should NOT do?
- When does a child need to see a physician?
- How long will it take for the child to get better?
- More stories
- Recommendations from Academy of Pediatrics
- Fever and pain
- Stuffy nose and sneezing
- Feeling better without medicine
Infants and Allergies: What Should Parents Watch For?
Infant Allergies to Foods
“Foods are the most common cause of allergies in children under age 1,” explains Dr. Renner. “Mothers who breastfeed may see signs of food allergy when they start to introduce solid foods at about 4 to 6 months.”
The most common food allergies in young children are:
- Fish and shellfish
An infant allergy to cow’s milk may show up as soon as the parent introduces formula, because about 80 percent of formulas are milk-based. Up to 7.5 percent of infants can develop this allergy. So how will you know if your child is one of them? “Symptoms of child or infant food allergies may include skin rashes, hives, wheezing, nasal congestion, and digestive problems,” Renner notes.
As a child’s immune system matures, some food allergies will go away on their own. “About 85 percent of children outgrow food allergies to milk, egg, soy, or wheat by age 5,” says Renner. Allergies that are more likely to persist in later years include fish, shellfish, and nuts.
Child Allergies to Environmental Allergens
By the time your baby reaches toddlerhood, at about 18 months, you may see sensitivity to indoor and outdoor allergens show up. Symptoms can include itchy nose and eyes, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, and asthma.
The most common causes of toddler allergies are:
- Dust mites
- Outdoor pollens
Children are less likely to outgrow environmental allergies than food allergies. While about 50 percent of children who have asthma symptoms caused by allergies appear to outgrow their symptoms by adolescence, when their lungs have matured, the asthma never really goes away, and symptoms often reappear.
If You Suspect Child Allergies
According to Renner, most of the traditional, allergy-type symptoms, such as a rash or nasal congestion, when experienced by a very young child, are not due to an allergy. “If babies have allergy symptoms when new foods are introduced or if a parent suspects toddler allergies, the parent should start with a visit to their pediatrician,” she says.
Here are some ways pediatricians test for infant and toddler allergies:
- Asking about the child’s symptoms and about any family history of allergies
- Doing a physical exam
- Testing the skin (usually done with older children)
- Testing the blood (more common for infants and young children)
- Eliminating items from the diet to check for food allergies
Once the allergy causes are found, a pediatrician or an allergist can help you come up with a plan to help your child avoid the allergens or to treat the symptoms.
Baby Allergies: Prevention & Treatment Tips
Baby Allergy Facts
Baby Care Basics: Allergies
Although you may not dare leave the house these days without checking the pollen count and stuffing your pockets with Kleenex, luckily you need not worry — yet — that your baby will also experience hay fever. “Allergies develop after a cumulative exposure to an allergen,” explains Anne Miranowski, M.D., a pediatric allergist in Fairfax, Virginia. “An infant doesn’t spend enough time outdoors to develop a reaction to tree pollen, grass, or ragweed.” However, allergic reactions to food and indoor environmental irritants can occur during baby’s first year and might trigger symptoms like red eyes, sneezing, sniffling, or eczema.
If you or your partner has an allergy, your baby is at increased risk. Her allergy may be completely different, though; if you’re allergic to pollen, your child might react to cats. But even if you and your spouse never itch or sneeze, your kid isn’t necessarily in the clear. Childhood allergies are on the rise, and many young sufferers have no family history. Some experts think our superclean, ultra-hygienic lifestyle plays a role. If kids live in an almost-germ-free bubble, the theory goes, their immune system will pick fights with other invaders, like foods or household particles. Of course, we’re not suggesting you abandon hand sanitizer — which is why we asked experts for practical advice on how to manage the types of allergies that affect infants most.
Where did your baby’s glowing, flawless complexion go? If you see a red, dry patch on his forehead, cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp, or neck, it’s probably eczema. This skin reaction is sometimes the first sign of an allergy. Because eczema is itchy, your little guy might wake up during the night to scratch and then be extra tired during the day. But don’t be alarmed. Eczema is very common — 1 in 5 kids has it — and it gets less severe with age.
How to Prevent It: You might love nuzzling your sweetly scented baby, but perfumed products for bath, skin, and even laundry can aggravate sensitive skin and cause eczema. So switch to fragrance-free products for a quick fix. (Avoid unscented ones, which can still contain fragrances used to mask another odor.)
How to How to Treat It: Dr. Miranowski says a simple daily bathing regimen clears up many mild cases. “Years ago, people thought that you shouldn’t bathe a baby with eczema too often because it would dry out the skin,” she says. “But that’s not true. Water restores moisture to dry skin.” So she recommends a daily “soap-and-seal” routine. After washing your child with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser (try Dove, Cetaphil, or Eucerin), pat her skin dry and apply moisturizer. Ointments (like Aquaphor) are best, and cream-based formulas (like Cetaphil) also work well. Both are better than lotion, which contains more alcohol and can be drying.
If your baby’s eczema is advanced, a bleach bath — which isn’t as shocking as it sounds — may help. Soaking for five to ten minutes two to three times weekly in a diluted bleach bath is five times more effective at treating eczema in children (ages 9 months and up) than plain water is, shows a 2009 study published in Pediatrics. “Bleach isn’t harmful to the skin,” Dr. Miranowski says. “It’s similar to swimming in a pool, only cleaner. This bath is helpful because it reduces a type of bacteria on the skin that contributes to eczema.” An oatmeal bath can also soothe itchy skin. Unlike bleach, though, it won’t kill the bacteria that cause eczema.
Been there, done that, and no improvement? See a pediatric allergist for a skin or blood test to determine if your little one is reacting to a household particle (dust mites, mold, or pet dander) or a food (baby’s formula or food you’re eating as a nursing mom). Once you pinpoint the cause, eliminate it, which should clear up baby’s skin. An allergist can also prescribe a steroid cream to stop the itch.
Peanuts are on everyone’s radar, but they aren’t the only troublesome food. Eggs, milk, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are also top allergens. About 3 million kids (almost 4 out of every 100) have a food allergy. Some fade as a child ages; others tend to stick for life. As for reactions, your child might have a mild one, like getting a few hives around the mouth. Or he might experience a more severe response, such as swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, or trouble breathing.
How To Prevent It: You might not be able to stop an allergy, says Jacqueline Eghrari-Sabet, M.D., founder of Family Asthma & Allergy Care in Maryland. The American Academy of Pediatrics used to tell parents to delay the introduction of certain foods like nuts and shellfish if their kids battled eczema or if they had a family history of food allergies. Some docs also used to advise pregnant women to avoid nuts. Now we know there’s no proof that either tactic works, but there is good reason to introduce new foods gradually. Spacing out their intro over several days will help you ID a problem food if your baby does have an issue, says Trong Le, M.D., an allergist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
All that said, breastfeeding might offer some protection. A report in a 2008 issue of Pediatrics found that breastfeeding high-risk babies for at least four months can delay or possibly prevent the onset of food allergies, asthma, and eczema. Hypoallergenic infant formulas can also help. In these, the cow’s milk proteins are broken down into such small particles that most infants who have a milk allergy can tolerate them.
How to How to Treat It: When eczema is persistent or your child has a reaction to food, visit a pediatric allergist for skin or blood tests. If the results are positive, you’ll need to eliminate that food from your child’s diet. This means you’ll be taking your reading glasses to the grocery store so you can closely inspect labels; nuts, eggs, milk, and wheat are ingredients in many foods. Also, add two very important items to your diaper bag: Children’s Benadryl (an over-the-counter antihistamine liquid) and an Epi-Pen Jr. (a prescription adrenaline injector), so you’re prepared if your child accidentally eats a trigger food. You’ll also need to make sure that your child’s day-care provider, grandparents, and babysitters are aware of the allergy and how to manage it.
If the test results are negative, you might want to see a pediatric gastroenterologist. Your baby could have a food intolerance, which means she has trouble digesting a particular food. This can cause acid reflux, gas, bloating, or diarrhea — which are not allergic reactions.
Something to consider: Recent research published in the January 2010 issue of the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that 80 percent of children diagnosed with a peanut allergy don’t have a true allergy. It’s possible that a positive test result could simply indicate a minor sensitivity and not a full-blown allergy, says study author Adnan Custovic, M.D.
Constantly wiping your baby’s nose for weeks on end isn’t one of the perks of motherhood. A runny nose is only one possible symptom of a nasal allergy. Others include red and itchy eyes, nose rubbing, and clear (rather than yellow or green) mucus. Kids aren’t typically bothered by outdoor triggers like grass and ragweed until after age 3, but they can be bothered by household allergens such as mold, dust mites, pet dander, and cockroaches. Nasal allergies affect as many as 40 percent of children, and symptoms can start as early as 6 months. Pay close attention to when your child’s sneezing or itching peaks: This can clue you in to what’s responsible. For example, dust mites live in bedding and furniture, so if your child is allergic to dust mites, she’ll probably wake up with itchy eyes and a runny nose after inhaling them overnight. Or if your baby can’t tolerate pet dander, you might notice that her symptoms erupt when you’re visiting Grandma and her cats.
How To Prevent It: Get cleaning! Mold flourishes in damp environments, so kill it by wiping under the fridge, scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning or changing shower curtains, and washing and disinfecting garbage cans. Wipe off mini blinds, which trap dust, or replace them with washable drapes. Laundering sheets and stuffed animals in hot water weekly can reduce the level of dust mites and pet dander. Vacuum carpets at least once a week (and upholstery a couple of times every month), especially if you have a dog or cat. Ideally, you should use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which actually removes allergens rather than spewing them around the room. For both carpet and upholstery, avoid wet cleaners, as they can leave rugs and furniture damp, creating an environment for mold. Cockroaches are a less common problem, especially in nonurban areas, but play it safe by removing garbage from the kitchen, keeping food in sealed containers, and regularly cleaning counters and floors. Dust mites and cockroaches thrive in humid areas, so fix water leaks and use a dehumidifier as well.
How to Treat It: If your child has a pet allergy, keep Rex and Mr. Whiskers out of your child’s room, and also establish a pet-free zone in the part of your house where your baby spends most of his time, Dr. Miranowski says. In addition to vacuuming regularly, you can bathe your pet every week and install a HEPA filter in an air purifier to remove dander. If these measures don’t work — and if your child continues to have a reaction to dander or dust mites despite your best housekeeping efforts — an allergist will likely prescribe a medication. Claritin and Zyrtec are both available as a syrup, and they’re approved for children older than 2 years. Of course, if your kid has a severe allergy, you can find a new pet-friendly home for Rex, but these other tactics often work well.
Now that you know how to keep your baby’s sniffles at bay (at least most of the time), sit back and relax a little. Until, of course, you have to worry about seasonal allergies in a few years!
When to Test Your Newborn for Food Allergies
A lot of parents get excited when they start to feed their child solid foods. It will be fun, adventurous and all around hysterical. You’ve seen the viral videos of babies eating lemons that make us all bend over laughing. Or how about the kid that discovered bacon and experienced his first love?
The point is… introducing solids is fun.
But when will you know when the time is right?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that between the ages of 4 and 6 months is the optimal time to begin introducing solid foods. This is when babies start showing signs of readiness, which means that their bodies are ready. Some of these signs include sitting up with support, having control of their head and neck movements, showing interest in what you’re eating and no longer having the reflex of pushing food out of his or her mouth.
It’s important to start incorporating solid foods at this time because otherwise, your baby will get overly accustomed to liquids and loose the interest of learning how to eat solids.
When it’s time to start introducing solid foods, it means it’s also time to start testing your newborn for food allergies. The two go hand-in-hand. However, you’re introducing new foods, continue to breastfeed for other meals. This will help reduce the chances of food allergies due to the immune properties in the breast milk.
Common Allergenic Foods
Before you begin testing your newborn for allergies, here is a list of the most common allergenic foods. It’s great to keep this in mind when you start feeding your baby solids in order to keep a watchful eye out for any symptoms. Read more information on these common food allergens here.
- Tree nuts
How to Test Your Newborn
While the time may have come to start testing your newborn, there’s a lot of conflicting information on how to actually do it. Luckily, we’ve put together our best tips for seamlessly testing your newborn below.
Introduce Solid Foods Gradually
Feeding your baby solids is fun. You get to see their reactions to certain foods and find out what they like and dislike. It’s one more milestone for parents to check off their lists. However, introducing solids should be done carefully.
When you do decide to start introducing solid foods to your newborn, make sure that you take your time. While it is tempting to let your child try a little bit of this and a little bit of that, it has the potential to cause complications. This is because introducing solids is essentially how you test for allergens.
For this reason, doctors recommend introducing babies to new foods one at a time. This way, if an allergic reaction does occur, you’ll be able to exactly pinpoint which food it was that caused the reaction.
If you give your child a few new solid foods over the course of the day and something goes wrong, you won’t be able to determine exactly which of the foods caused it and you’ll need to do further tests to be sure.
Don’t stress too much about the order of foods you introduce. As long as the foods are healthy, then things will go fine. As a general rule of thumb, the Mayo Clinic recommends single-ingredient foods with no added sugar or salt.
Additionally, it is recommended that every time you introduce a new food, you wait a few days before introducing more1. This is because some foods may have an extended reaction time. Which leads us to our next point…
Keep a Close Eye Out for Allergy Symptoms
As you start introducing new foods, it’s important to make sure that you are keeping a close eye out for symptoms of allergies. Most reactions occur soon (even immediately) after the food is eaten, but will also extend hours post consumption.
Make sure that you are aware of the following allergen symptoms so that you will react quickly.
- Hives or welts, which can occur on the face or on the body
- Rash or flushed skin
- Any swelling of the face, tongue or lips
- Coughing or continual wheezing
- Any difficulty breathing
- A sudden loss of consciousness
In order to ensure the safety of your child, make sure that you pay close attention to these symptoms.
If your baby is having any difficulty breathing, high levels of swelling or severe vomiting and/or diarrhea, call 911 immediately. It is more important to get immediate medical attention than it is to contact your pediatrician first.
These types of symptoms indicate that your child is having a severe allergic reaction and you should take extra precaution to make sure that your child avoids these as they continue to grow.
A rash isn’t as serious as difficulty breathing, so don’t freak out! If mild allergic reactions occur simply give your pediatrician a call. They will walk you through the steps for how to manage these reactions.
If you find a mild reaction in a food, it’s best to completely avoid it for now. Allergens will increase in severity over time, remain the same or completely disappear. Talk to your pediatrician for more information
Only Introduce New Foods at Home
After reading about the symptoms, we’re sure you understand why we recommend only introducing new foods at home. This makes things much more manageable if an allergic reaction occurs.
Plus, who wants to deal with the stress of baby’s first allergic reaction while out at a restaurant? We doubt many people do.
If you want to be especially careful, consider having a child-safe oral antihistamine around. Talk to your pediatrician to find one that will work best for you and your child.
Be Especially Careful When Introducing Peanut Products
Serious food allergies are dangerous and will change the way you and your family eat. Since the most common serious allergen is peanuts, be overly cautious when introducing it to your child.
This doesn’t mean hold off on introducing peanuts though. In fact, there’s currently research that states that introducing younger children to peanuts, as early as 4 months old, can actually reduce the risk of developing an allergy.
Here’s a great article with tips for safely incorporating peanuts into your baby’s diet.
See an Allergist
When you are allergic to something, your body develops antibodies as a layer of protection. When these antibodies come in contact with the allergen, there are chemicals released to warn your body. These chemicals are what cause allergy symptoms.
If you find that your baby has one or more positive symptoms of allergic reactions, it’s a good idea to take them into an allergist. At their office, an allergist may recommend either doing a blood test, a skin prick test or both.
A blood test measures the amount of antibodies that your body contains for specific allergens6. A skin test is an alternative way to test allergens but will cause more discomfort for newborns over a longer period of time.
There are a few precautions to keep in mind when you begin testing your newborn for allergies. The following things are not appropriate for babies and should be avoided until the reach a certain age:
- No cow’s milk before reaching age 1.
- Do not give your infant honey – it causes a serious illness called infant botulism. Wait until at least 1 year, maybe even 2 years to be on the safe side.
- Always cut up the food your giving your newborn into small pieces that have zero risk of choking.
- Avoid hard foods like nuts, popcorn and candy.
The Difference Between Intolerance and an Allergy
One thing to note is that there is a difference between an allergy to foods and intolerance to foods. An allergy is your immune system’s first line of defensive. It indicates that there is something, usually a protein, in the food that will cause either respiratory or gastrointestinal problems.
There may be an underlying factor causing the allergens, but that is easier to test when your baby grows older.
Intolerance to food is more of a metabolic response – unrelated to immune systems. It usually involves enzymes and chemical reactions that any given body has a hard time processing. Talk to your pediatrician to learn more about these differences and what they mean for your baby.
When your newborn begins to show signs of curiosity toward solid foods, it’s time to start testing them for allergies. Remember, start slow and always introduce new foods in a place that you’re comfortable in. If you have any genetic predispositions to allergies, be cautious and ready for reactions. It can be handy to keep a child-friendly antihistamine ready just in case, and remember to always call 911 before your pediatrician in case of severe reactions. If you’re looking for more great pregnancy tips, info, and product reviews head over to our website. As always, through the Affordable Care Act you are eligible to receive a breast pump from Byram Healthcare at no additional cost.
Have any fun stories or words of caution about when you introduced your baby to solids for the first time? Leave a comment on our Facebook page today!
Seasonal Allergies in Babies and Toddlers: Baby Allergies
The runny nose hasn’t let up for weeks, that nagging cough is never-ending — and nothing you do can stop those tiny fingers from rubbing those watery, red eyes. Instead of a cold, your little one could be suffering from allergies, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis.
And lots of children (even very young children) end up having them: Plant pollen causes an allergic reaction in up to 40 percent of kids, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Infant allergies: Can babies have seasonal allergies?
Allergies to inhaled substances are rare among infants in their first year.
Babies are much more likely to experience allergies to foods and eczema, particularly if you have a family history of allergies, asthma, hay fever or eczema.
When do seasonal allergies develop in babies?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), seasonal rhinitis symptoms can pop up in kids as young as 2, but usually appear during a child’s early school years.
What causes seasonal allergies in babies and toddlers?
Seasonal allergy symptoms usually occur during spring, summer and fall. Depending on where you live, the beginning and end of these seasons vary, as well as the specific plants causing the complaints. But unfortunately, no region of the United States is completely untouched by allergy triggers.
When your little one inhales one (or more) of the following seasonal allergens, her immune system churns out antibodies that jumpstart the release of a protein called histamine in the bloodstream which, in turn, causes allergy symptoms:
Spring allergies: tree pollen
Tree pollen kicks off the spring allergy season, which can start as early as January (but often doesn’t really get going until March, April or even May) and last through June.
The most common culprits — cedar, birch, oak, maple and pine — are found in most parts of the United States. Rule of thumb: The farther south you live, the earlier the season starts.
More on Allergies and Colds in Kids
Care Seasonal Allergy Medications That Are Safe for Babies and Toddlers Baby Feeding Food Allergies in Children: What Parents Need to Know Health Does Your Baby or Toddler Have a Cold, or Is It Allergies? Care Seasonal Allergy Medications That Are Safe for Babies and Toddlers Baby Feeding Food Allergies in Children: What Parents Need to Know Health Does Your Baby or Toddler Have a Cold, or Is It Allergies?
Late spring to summer allergies: grass pollen
Grasses, including Bermuda, orchard, brome, rye and Timothy, are more likely to produce symptoms in late spring and early summer in the northern states but are always problematic in the South since grasses there pollinate year-round.
Late summer to fall allergies: weed pollen
If your little one is feeling under the weather come late summer and fall, ragweed (and other weeds such as plantain, nettle, chenopod and sage) could be to blame. Ragweed grows in nearly every climate and is the biggest source of hay fever symptoms.
Allergy symptoms in babies and toddlers
A child with seasonal allergies frequently has dark under-eye circles, wipes her nose in an upward fashion (aptly called an “allergic salute”), breathes through her mouth, sneezes, rubs her nose and eyes, coughs or wheezes, has trouble remembering things or is irritable or moody.
She may also complain about the following:
- An itchy, runny nose
- A congested, stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery or swollen eyes
- Itchy throat and roof of the mouth, especially in the morning (from mouth breathing)
- Itchy skin
- Disrupted sleep and fatigue
- Difficulty breathing (get a professional opinion right away if your child tells you this, to rule out more serious causes)
- Sore throat
- Ear pain
If the same symptoms occur around the same time every spring, summer or fall, it’s a sign that her body is probably reacting to outdoor allergens. And if you or your partner have a family history of allergies, there’s a good chance your little one is predisposed to those seasonal sneezes and sniffles too.
Allergies vs. colds in babies and toddlers
Colds and allergies are actually pretty hard to tell apart: Both can cause runny noses, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes and headache.
However, if your little one’s runny nose and coughing linger for more than a couple of weeks, check in with your doctor to see if you might be dealing with allergies.
Can a child have a fever with allergies?
While it’s possible for a child with allergies to have a fever, a fever is not directly caused by allergies and is more likely a sign of a cold or other respiratory infection, or another illness altogether.
Seasonal allergies (rhinitis) is also often confused with sinusitis (aka a sinus infection). However seasonal allergies are an inflammation of the nasal passages that’s caused by allergens like pollen and grass, while sinusitis is an inflammation of the whole sinuses that’s usually caused by bacteria, fungi or a virus.
Other symptoms of sinusitis may include discolored nasal discharge, headaches, and pain on the bridge of the nose and cheekbones, under the eyes, and around the back teeth or jaw.
Can seasonal allergies cause diarrhea in babies?
Seasonal allergies themselves aren’t responsible for diarrhea in babies. However if your little one is taking antihistamines, diarrhea can be a (relatively rare) side effect.
Tips to relieve allergy symptoms in babies and toddlers
Allergy symptoms are no fun for kids; if left untreated, they can lead to sinus and ear infections. So see an allergist, who can determine what triggers are causing your little one’s symptoms and advise the best course of treatment.
In the meantime, the best way to relieve sneezing, itching, runny nose and coughing in babies and toddlers is to try to avoid allergens (or minimize exposure) in the first place if possible.
Here are tips to prevent and relieve pollen and grass allergy symptoms in the spring and summer:
- Keep windows closed and turn on the air conditioner to help keep pollen out. Be sure to replace the filters in your furnace and air conditioning vents annually.
- Clean your home regularly to control allergens: Dust frequently, wash beds linens weekly in hot water, use a HEPA-filter to vacuum, and consider removing drapery and carpeting that may trap allergens.
- Be mindful of local pollen counts and try to limit outdoor activities on days when it’s high. Note that in later summer and fall, ragweed pollen counts are highest in the morning; during spring and summer, grass pollen is highest in the evening. Sunny, windy days can be the most troublesome for anyone suffering from pollen allergies.
- Get your family in the habit of taking their shoes off when they come inside to reduce the pollen tracked inside.
- Shower or bathe your little ones daily to remove pollen particles in their hair and clothes.
- Wash clothes (light jackets, etc.) regularly to remove pollen, and put them in the dryer instead of hanging them outside to dry.
- Cut grass short to reduce pollen output.
- Outdoor pets should be bathed frequently, since their fur can pick up pollen.
What allergy medicines are safe for babies and toddlers?
Your doctor may recommend child-safe OTC or prescription antihistamines and/or prescribe corticosteroids in certain cases to counteract the allergic response and/or reduce swelling. Allergy shots may be given too, but usually not until a child is a little older.
Year-round allergies in babies and toddlers
Does your little one seem to suffer from allergy symptoms no matter the season? Pets, dust or mold could be to blame.
Dander, the tiny scales sloughed off by the skin of animals, is the most common offender in an animal allergy. But some people are allergic to the saliva or urine of pets, in which case cats, dogs or small caged critters can all be a problem. Some kids are even allergic to birds. Cat dander is more often a problem than that of dogs, and long-haired pets tend to cause more issues than short-haired ones.
If you own a pet and suspect or have confirmed an animal allergy:
- Try to keep your pet and your child in different rooms.
- It may help to bathe your pet weekly.
- Get rid of wall-to-wall carpets if you can.
- Minimize upholstered furniture and other furnishings that pet dander can stick to (or keep your pets away from those areas of the house).
- Use an air purifier with a high-energy particulate filter.
- In severe cases, the only solution may be to find your pet another home.
It isn’t the dust that triggers allergy symptoms in most people, it’s the dust mites. These microscopic creatures can fill the air in your home and may be inhaled, unseen, by everyone in your family. That’s no problem for most people, but for someone who’s hypersensitive to these substances, it can mean misery. While most people don’t have a problem with dust and dander, if you suspect or have confirmed that your baby or toddler is allergic to either, you’ll want to take extra precautions.
If you suspect or confirm your child has a dust allergy:
- Limit her exposure by keeping the rooms she spends the most time in (especially her bedroom) as dust-free as possible.
- Dust often with a specially treated dust cloth or damp cloth, damp-mop floors, and thoroughly vacuum often, if possible with a HEPA filter.
- Avoid carpeting, heavy draperies, chenille bedspreads and other dust catchers in rooms where your little one sleeps and plays.
- Wash stuffed toys and blankets or comforters frequently in hot water (over 130 F if possible).
- Wash any curtains, throw rugs or other items at least twice a month, or pack them away.
- Sheathe mattresses and pillows in air-tight casings (crib mattresses usually come with airtight covers) if you can.
- Put filters over forced-air vents, and install a central air cleaner, if feasible.
- Probably most important, keep humidity in your home moderately low since dust mites generally can’t survive where humidity is below 50 percent.
- Check with your child’s allergist for suggestions on safe sprays or powders that can be used to kill mites in your carpeting and upholstery.
Mold grows inside and outside, and is found in every region of the U.S. Outdoor mold spores travel through the air, just like pollen. And, just like pollen, mold spores spur allergy symptoms at different times of the year, depending on where you live.
In southern regions and on the West Coast, mold can be found year-round. In warmer areas, mold peaks in July, while in cooler climates, mold spores peak in October.
However, fallen leaves and decaying vegetation can also contribute to higher mold levels later in autumn; in December, mold spores can be found on live Christmas trees and other holiday greenery.
Mold can also grow year-round indoors in damp areas like your basement, your bathroom or underneath your kitchen sink.
For a suspected mold allergy, consider the following tips:
- Control moisture in your home by using a well-maintained humidifier.
- Provide adequate ventilation and use an exhaust fan vented to the outside to dispose of steam from the kitchen, laundry and baths.
- Areas where molds are likely to grow (garbage cans, refrigerators, shower curtains, bathroom tiles, damp corners) should be cleaned meticulously and frequently with a solution of equal parts bleach and water or an anti-mold agent.
- Paint basements and other potentially damp areas with a mold-inhibiting paint.
- Avoid leaving wet or damp clothes, shoes and towels lying around, especially if they’re crumpled or piled up and unable to dry properly.
- Limit houseplants and dried flowers to rooms where your child doesn’t spend a lot of time.
- Store firewood outside the house.
- Keep live Christmas trees in the house for a limited or decorate an artificial tree instead.
- Make sure that the outside drainage around your house or building is good and that leaves and other plant debris aren’t building up.
- Sunlight helps prevent damp areas from spawning mold, so cut back plants and trees to maximize sun exposure, if possible.
- If you have a sandbox, keep it covered at night and when it rains; let it bake dry in sunny, warm weather.
A baby’s intestines are not fully developed so this is why they seem to get a lot of gas and it is why we have to burp them after feeding. Gas pain is common in babies in the first three months while the intestines are maturing. You will notice another period between 6 and 12 months where baby will start becoming gassy again. This is due to the fact that during this period of time they are trying new foods. Keep in mind that babies are no different than adults, they can get gas when they consume certain types of vegetables so you may have to closely monitor what baby is eating to try to figure out what foods to avoid. If you eliminate certain veggies and baby still has gas, it may not be the veggies, it could be another food item and it might be an allergic reaction.
10 Low or No Weight Gain
Babies vary in shape and size so how much weight they gain can depend on many factors. Genetics can play a role, how much she is fed and whether she is fed breast milk or formula are factors. Typically, babies double their weight by around the sixth month mark and triple it by twelve months. When babies are not getting the right nutrition they are unable to grow. There could be a number of reasons that little Sara is not gaining weight and to a parent this can be very surprising. Even first-time mothers expect to see their babies’ progress in terms of weight. Slow weight gain or no weight gain can be an indication of an allergy as opposed to a serious illness. Many parents who have been in this position are amazed at how quickly their baby gains weight when an allergy is eliminated. If your baby isn’t gaining weight, you should see a doctor.
9 Respiratory Problems
More than 200 viruses can cause the common cold and your baby has to develop immunity to all of these viruses one at a time. The reality is that your baby would have to get a whole lot of colds to be immune to all cold viruses. A baby explores a lot as he/she grows and that means touching and licking everything so it is easy to pick up a cold virus. However, when a baby is wheezing and having a hard time breathing as they develop excess mucus in the nose and throat then it could be something other than a cold virus. For some babies these symptoms can be an allergic reaction. Respiratory problems in babies are often linked to a milk allergy, although other allergies could be the cause. It is important not to diagnose your baby on your own, but to get him/her to a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
8 Unusual Looking Eyes
As soon as baby is born she can see things about 20 to 35 cm away, such as your face when you are holding her. Babies will stare at people for long periods of time. Mom and Dad love to stare back at their babies and admire their eyes, but if baby has dark red or purple circles under the eyes it could be a sign of allergies. Doctors often refer to these dark circles under the eyes as, “allergic shiners”. The shiners are caused by blood pooling under the eyes when the nasal passage gets congested. When a baby’s eyes are red and watery it could also be an indication of an allergy of some kind. Sometimes a baby will rub or scratch his or her eyes because they are itchy and irritated. This can further aggravate the situation and lead to more discharge from the eyes. It’s unfortunate but these unusual looking eyes can make a baby look sad and it can also make baby very irritable.
7 Puffy or Swollen Eyes
Much like adults, babies can get puffiness around the eyes due to lack of sleep. Newborn babies up to 6 months old need about 16 to 20 hours of sleep per day. They normally wake every two to three hours to eat. At four months a lot of babies sleep ten to 12 months at night with just one or two feedings and a nap for three to five hours during the day. Life does not always run on schedule and that means baby can miss sleep or perhaps baby isn’t sleeping for another reason. When baby isn’t getting enough sleep he/she can get puffy or swollen eyes. This isn’t much different than when adults don’t get enough rest. If baby is getting an adequate amount of rest and has putty or swollen eyes it might be an allergic reaction. Dust, smoke or pet dander are common allergies for babies. In some cases, babies are allergic to mom’s perfume or dad’s cologne.
6 Constant Sneezing
Sneezing in infants is a normal reaction. Babies have a smaller nasal passage than adults and need to clear their noses more often because they get clogged more easily. They sneeze to get rid of smoke, dust and breast milk. Their little nasal passages get really irritated since they spend a lot of time leaning back and drinking milk. If your baby is sneezing a lot and has some of the other symptoms listed here, such as unusual looking eyes or respiratory problems, there is a chance that it could be allergies as opposed to a normal reaction to a clogged nasal passage. Paying close attention to when baby sneezes might help you pinpoint what is causing the response. If nothing stands out then make sure you discuss it with your doctor. He or she will likely be able to offer you a quick and easy solution to end the sneezing and thus make baby more comfortable.
5 Lip Swelling
It is of course common for school age kids to get swollen lips. It is normally due to falling while running, playing or being chased by other children. Apply a little ice and tender loving care and they are back to their usual pace of activity. When a baby’s lips swell up it is a different situation. Unless the baby has bumped his mouth up against something, he or she is most likely experiencing an allergic reaction to something that has come in contact with the lips. If it is an allergy, there can be itching or tingling but of course baby can’t communicate this to you other than crying. The substance causing the allergic reaction can be food, creams, lip balm transferred from someone kissing the baby, or something transferred from the baby’s hands to the lip. It can be difficult to pinpoint. No matter what the irritant, it is important to seek medical help if your baby experiences swelling of the lips.
People of all ages, including babies can experience hives. They show up as welts or swollen, itchy areas on the skin. They are well defined, with pale, raised central areas that are surrounded by a red border. They can last for a few hours or for several days. It is also possible to have them for months. They can disappear from one area of the baby’s skin and then suddenly appear in another area. Hives appear when the body releases a chemical called “histamine”. There are many reasons that hives may surface, including an allergic reaction to food or medications. The most common foods are milk, eggs, nuts, and any food preservatives. Antibiotics can trigger hives, as well as other drugs. Pet allergies, and sometimes a sudden and drastic change in temperature can cause hives in babies. It is also worth considering that your baby could be allergic to certain insect bites. Bees and fire ants have been known to cause allergies in some babies and adults.
3 Skin Redness and Blisters
It is true that babies are prone to all sorts of rashes. In most cases those rashes can be easily treated with creams and ointments – either prescribed or over-the-counter options. If baby experiences red patches of skin with blisters this could be something a little more serious. One possibility is that your baby is allergic to the sun. This allergy, also called photosensitivity, is the immune system reacting to sunlight. The rash appears most often on the back of the hands, the outside of the arms and the lower legs. In severe cases the red rash also comes with blisters. Also, most parents are aware of the importance of putting sunscreen on babies but sometimes a baby can have an allergic reaction to sun blockers so it is important to choose a sunscreen that is chemical free. Consulting with your doctor is a good idea when it comes to choosing what’s best.
2 Constant Coughing
Babies cough for many different reasons and like adults they can either have a wet cough or a dry cough. In many cases a baby with a wet cough can signal a respiratory illness with a bacterial infection. A dry cough can mean that a baby has a cold, but sometimes that dry cough just won’t go away, making baby very tired and irritable. You know how exhausting it can be when you have a constant cough. There are cases where a dry cough in a baby can be due to allergies. If your baby has a cough that won’t go away no matter what you seem to do then seek medical advice.
1 Failure to Thrive
When babies come into the world, they are small and delicate so it is so amazing to see just how much energy they have. How often have you heard someone say, “I wish I could bottle some of that energy and drink it?” Seeing your baby thrive is the greatest feeling in the world even when you are exhausted yourself as a result of the late night feedings, diaper changes etc. Sadly, some babies fail to thrive. There can be many medical reasons why a baby lacks energy, but one potential reason for some babies is that they have a milk allergy and therefore are suffering from a lack of proper nutrition and dehydration. These babies lose their appetite and their energy level quickly diminishes. In these situations it is important to see a doctor right away. Proper nutrition is so important to many different bodily functions and to the healthy development of your baby.
Babies can be allergic to many different foods and environmental agents just like youth and adults can be. The most common allergies in babies and young kids are milk, eggs, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds. Statistics show that about seven percent of all newborns have some sort of allergy to milk. In many cases the allergic reaction can be so mild that it goes on for some time before the parent even realizes it.
Despite what many people think, if you have an allergy to a certain food or other substance, it does not mean that you will automatically pass that allergy on to your baby. Having said this, there is some evidence that suggests some families include more people with allergies than other families. Allergy researchers in the U.K report that children born into families where allergies exist tend to have a higher than average chance of getting allergies themselves. The experts estimate that about 50 percent of children from these families will go on to develop allergies.
Sources: Parents.com, WhatToExpect.com, BabyCenter.com, MayoClinic.org, LiveScience.com
In today’s day and age where we come across numerous medical disorders, allergies are quite common and aren’t necessarily meant to be feared. Not just adults, but even infants are prone to allergies. Food allergy is the most common type of allergy seen in children. Allergies in babies appear randomly, and you need to be aware of the most common causes of various allergies and how to handle them.
Video: Common Allergies in Babies and How to Handle Them
What is an Allergy?
‘Allergy’ is a commonly used term to indicate an abnormal reaction to some commonly known substance. The body becomes hypersensitive to some substances. An ‘allergic reaction’ is the outcome of the body’s reaction to this trigger.
Babies too are allergic to some foods such as milk, eggs, nuts, wheat and fish. They might develop rashes, difficulty in breathing and continuous sneezing due to an allergic reaction.
How common are Allergies in Babies?
Babies are prone to allergies as they are fragile and their immune system is still developing. Kids may be allergic to food as well as to other external substances.
Who is at Risk of getting Allergies?
It is difficult to determine a single trigger for allergies, so it is not easy to identify whether your child may develop an allergy or not. Nevertheless, genetics seem to have some connection to a person becoming allergic to a particular substance. If it runs in the family, then the chances of your baby too being allergic to the same things is very high. Sometimes, it might not be the same allergen (an allergy-causing substance) at all, but something entirely new that can cause an allergic reaction. Infants are at an increased risk as their immune system is not fully developed.
Allergy vs. Cold
It is very easy to mistake an allergy for common cold because some symptoms are very similar. In fact, some people don’t even know the difference between the two.
Common Cold is a virus, it is contagious too. When you catch a cold, the body’s defence counter-attacks and as a result of this you get cough, fever, aches and pains. It might take many days and some medication to get rid of the cold.
On the other hand, allergies are caused by the body’s overly sensitive immune system. The body senses otherwise harmless things as a foreign body and begins to attack them. This might cause an allergic reaction like rashes or sneezing. Some commonly known allergens are milk, soy, fish, dust, pollen, nuts and wheat. Unlike cold allergies, allergies do not go away so quickly, they keep recurring. They are also not contagious.
Signs your Baby has an Allergy not Cold
If your baby is irritated and has a stuffy nose for an extended period, then the baby might be allergic to something. An allergic reaction, unlike a cold, shows up immediately. If you notice that the child is unable to sleep with a stuffy nose or has rashes on the body, then there is a high chance that it is an allergy and not just cold.
How Children Get Allergies?
Most allergies are inherited and run in the family. Such allergies are mostly food related. The child can also get allergic to pets, mites and pollen. A child can develop allergies at any point in life and from anywhere.
Diagnosing Allergies in Children?
Allergic reactions are commonly seen immediately after exposure to the allergen. The very first symptoms are extensive sneezing, watery eyes and stuffy nose. They recur each time the child is exposed to those allergens.
There are several tests for different allergies. But the best way to know is to observe and identify the allergen causing them.
Why are Allergies on the Rise in Babies and Children?
There is no specific reasoning as to why allergies are on the rise in babies and children. The rising pollution levels make us prone to pollution outdoors. In general, it is believed that the clean indoors and lesser exposure to harmless germs may be a cause for the increase in allergies because the baby’s body lacks an opportunity to build a defence mechanism in such an environment. It would be good to allow children get dirty once in a while. Being overly protective can do more harm than good.
What is an Allergic Reaction and What Happens during that phase?
When we contact an allergen the body releases antibodies to fight against these allergens and those antibodies are called histamines. These histamines cause the blood vessels to swell up, which results in rashes, nasal blockage, sneezing, and itchy eyes making it difficult to breathe. Surprisingly, one kind of histamine attacks only one type of an allergy. For example, you may have an egg allergy, but you may not be allergic to peanuts.
What are the Common Allergies in Babies?
Some common allergies found in babies are:
- Food allergy
- Milk allergy
- Skin allergy
- Pet dander allergy
- Dust Mites
- Pollen allergy
- Mould allergy
1. Food Allergies
Food allergies are the most common type of allergies found in babies. Research shows that around 4% of infants and children suffer from food allergy. Food items such as nuts, eggs, wheat, chocolates, and fish are known to cause food allergies in babies.
Some of the most common symptoms observed are:
- Blocked nasal passage (stuffy nose)
- Itchy or puffy eyes
- Stomach pain
It is quite difficult when a child has food allergies as they will not be able to express their discomfort. Although the symptoms mentioned in the previous section seem harmless, in some cases, the tongue becomes thick due to swelling of the blood vessels. This swelling can block the air passage and the child might be unable to breathe (anaphylactic shock).
Treatment for allergies is staying away from the allergens that cause those allergies. It might not be a practical solution. Medication such as antihistamines is prescribed by the doctor. Some food allergies disappear as the child grows up.
It is best to stay away from food that causes allergies. If you notice that your child is showing symptoms of an allergy, it is better to avoid those substances in the future.
Some breastfed babies are allergic to breast milk. This is more so because of the cow’s milk in the mother’s diet. Once they are given formula feed to replace breast milk they automatically get better. Signs of milk allergy in breastfed babies are; vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, stuffy nose and no weight gain.
Your baby’s milk allergy might be only in the initial years, as he/she grows up the allergy might not exist.
Some toddlers are allergic to egg. It is more common in boys than in girls. If such is the case, avoid giving them eggs for a few years. You might want to try introducing egg in their diet after a couple of years to see if their allergy is gone.
2. Baby Skin Allergy
An average of 10% of children has skin allergies, the most common one being eczema also known as Atopical dermatitis. Other skin allergies are:
- Prickly heat
Eczema is a kind of skin disease wherein dry red patches appear on the body. It has a burning sensation and pus oozes from those patches. They leave a crusty patch after they dry.
Red patches appear mostly on the neck, wrists and ankles.
Eczema, if left untreated can be very painful and it can become a life-long problem.
Eczema is treated with a steroid (hydrocortisone) tropical cream.
Eczema can be easily managed with the following routine:
- Avoid the allergens, skin irritants
- Establish a regular skin care routine
- Avoid excessive scratching or rubbing the baby’s allergy rash
- Avoid stress
3. Nasal Allergies
Nasal allergies or respiratory allergies are severe and require immediate treatment. This allergy almost mimics common cold, but the difference is that cold affects the upper respiratory tract while nasal allergy affects the lower respiratory tract.
Respiratory allergies affect the airways and nasal passages causing coughing and wheezing. Difficulty in breathing and tightness in the chest are among other symptoms.
Wheezing or asthma is a serious condition as the child might experience difficulty in breathing, so it is important to take the child to the doctor immediately. Untreated nasal allergy can cause lung problems in future.
Anti-inflammatory drugs or inhaled steroids are used to treat this allergy. These help in reducing the swelling in the nasal passages.
The best way to prevent respiratory allergies is to avoid those specific allergens. Below listed are some common ways to prevent nasal allergies:
- Use dust mite proof mattresses and pillows.
- Avoid smoking at home
- Avoid carpeting the child’s room
- Avoid pets indoors
4. Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies are also called “Hayfever”. They are contracted through airborne allergens such as pollen and moulds. Otherwise harmless pollen and moulds are treated as foreign bodies, and the body is fighting against these by releasing histamines.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Allergies in babies eyes such as itchy eyes.
- Stuffy or a runny nose
- Itching in the ears
- Scratchy throat
Although seasonal allergies are not dangerous, they do make life difficult. If left untreated, they might turn into long-term health issues such as asthma, sinusitis and ear infections. Allergies in babies’ eyes make them very irritable and restless.
Hayfever might require some medication apart from avoiding the allergens. Some common allergy medication for babies that include antihistamines and nasal decongestants.
Following are some preventive measures:
- Rinsing nasal passages with saline
- Avoiding places with pollen and moulds
- Using an air purifier
5. Pet Allergies
Pet allergies are caused by the baby breathing in the pet dander (flakes of skin), saliva, urine and faeces. While animal fur is not so much of an allergen, it does attract a lot of pollen and dust.
The noticeable symptoms are as follows:
- Watery eyes
- A runny nose
There are no serious complications in pet allergy, but it can be very discomforting for the child.
Treatment includes immunotherapy, nasal sprays and bronchodilators.
- It is best to avoid pets at home especially indoors.
- Do not hug or kiss the pets.
- Vacuum regularly.
- Use air purifiers
- Regular pet baths
- Indoor Allergies
- Indoor allergies include allergies due to dust, pets and moulds.
A cough and breathing issues are the key symptoms.
Although there are no severe complications, excessive cough and breathing issues can cause significant discomfort.
Treatments include nasal sprays and immunotherapy.
It is advisable to keep the premises clean and avoid pets, if possible.
Most of the allergies can be treated only if the allergen is identified. The best baby allergic reaction treatment is to remove or avoid those allergens. Although most allergies are not dangerous, they are very discomforting for babies; it is best that they are treated as soon as possible.
All About Baby Allergies
A baby’s first sniffles can be scary and confusing, especially when everyone from the nurse at your pediatrician’s office to your mother-in-law spouts conflicting opinions. Most of the time symptoms like runny nose, rash, upset stomach, or crankiness – especially if they’re short-lived – are the result of a cold or another passing ailment. However, in some cases the cause is allergies.
When baby has an allergic reaction, it’s the result of an inappropriate response by his immune system. The immune system is programmed to fight off illness, but sometimes it reacts to a harmless substance, like pollen, as if it were an invading parasite, virus, or bacteria. To fight back, the immune system overproduces protective proteins called antibodies. This overproduction causes swelling and inflammation of tissues – the nasal passages, for example. Your baby’s allergic reaction can recur whenever he’s exposed to whatever triggered it.
The tendency to get allergies is hereditary, but specific allergies are not. For example, if you’re allergic to penicillin, your child may develop allergies although he might not be allergic to penicillin.
- RELATED: Your Child’s Allergies: How Symptoms Progress
Colds vs. Baby Allergies
Can you tell the difference between a cold and an allergy? It’s not easy, because the symptoms are similar on the surface. These symptoms will help you distinguish a cold from an allergy:
Upper Respiratory Tract
A runny nose with cloudy nasal discharge and fever is probably a cold. The symptoms should go away in a week or so. But persistent, thin, watery nasal discharge may indicate allergies.
A rare and severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis results in rapid swelling of baby’s airways. This prevents baby from breathing or swallowing. If you think this is happening to your child, call 911.
Lower Respiratory Tract
Coughing and wheezing (noisy breathing in which your baby makes a whistling sound) are common in infants and toddlers. Babies have small, sensitive airways in their lungs. When the airways swell up as a result of a respiratory virus, babies tend to cough or wheeze. Sometimes coughing and wheezing are the result of asthma, a lower respiratory disease that affects about 15 percent of children in the United States.
Allergic babies are prone to respiratory viruses and have trouble getting rid of coughs or colds. In response to allergens and viruses, the muscles of baby’s airways haves spasms and swell, leading to a dry, hacking cough. This can progress to wheezing.
Wheezing can be dangerous in a small child because it’s an indication that the child is having trouble breathing. If you think your child may be wheezing, observe whether his breathing is noisier when he breathes out or in, whether he’s sucking in his chest or stomach or flaring his nostrils to breathe, and whether he seems uncomfortable. If you think your child is showing any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
- RELATED: What to Do When Your Baby Has a Cold
Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is a condition caused by both allergies and viruses. Its symptoms are a red eye and discharge that causes the eye to be crusted shut in the morning. Allergic conjunctivitis doesn’t look very different from pinkeye that’s caused by a virus, so your child’s pediatrician will need to make the diagnosis.
There are, however, some things you may notice that are more specific to allergy-induced pinkeye. Babies with allergies may rub their eyes frequently (allergic eyes tend to be itchy), tear excessively, have dark circles under the eyes, and be irritable.
Newborns are prone to rashes, but most rashes (including infant acne) vanish by 2 or 3 months of age. This is the time allergic rashes tend to appear. The most common allergic rash is atopic dermatitis, or eczema, and for many babies it’s the first warning sign of allergic tendencies. Eczema is a red, scaly, and sometimes oozing rash on baby’s cheeks, torso, arms, and legs. In toddlers and older children, it appears as persistent dry, itchy patches of skin, usually on the neck, wrists, and ankles, and in the creases of the elbows and knees.
Contact dermatitis is an allergic rash caused by a reaction to soap, detergent, wool clothing, poison ivy, or another irritant that has touched baby’s body.
The classic allergic rash – the itchy, welt-like hive – is relatively rare in infants, and when it does occur tends to be smaller than in older children and adults (usually less than an inch long).
Viruses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, and gassiness. But these symptoms can also result from allergies – and not just to food. Children with environmental allergies may have stomach ailments as a result of swallowed phlegm, which can irritate the stomach.
Problems with eating, sleeping, or irritability can result from allergies. Your allergic baby will be fussy and uncomfortable. That’s usually due to his chronic congestion, abdominal pain, or itchy skin, eyes, or nose.
Another clue to look for is when symptoms occur. Colds are more common in the winter, but indoor allergies (such as a dust mite allergy) may be present all year. A food allergy can manifest itself anytime from a few minutes to a few hours after the offending food is eaten. Seasonal hay fever is most common in the spring or fall, but it usually doesn’t affect babies.
- RELATED: Babies and Skin Allergies
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Soothing Baby’s Allergy Symptoms
If your baby has been suffering from allergies, you’ll want to relieve his symptoms and minimize the chances of their recurring by making changes in his environment. Usual treatments for allergies include:
- Skin moisturizers or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream for eczema and other allergic rashes
- Oral antihistamines, like Benadryl, for rapid relief of an older baby’s symptoms
There’s good news for infants suffering from allergies. The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the prescription antihistamine Zyrtec for the treatment of year-round allergies in infants as young as 6 months old. It’s the first and only antihistamine – over-the-counter or prescription – demonstrated with clinical trials to be safe in infants this young.
Allergies usually get worse unless exposure to allergens decreases. If you can eliminate baby’s exposure to whatever is causing his reaction for at least six months, his body will essentially forget about it. However, it’s often difficult to identify what’s causing the allergy. You should keep a careful diary of what symptoms occur and when. This may expose a specific pet, article of clothing, food, or room in your house as the culprit that’s causing the allergy.
- RELATED: Baby Allergies: Prevention & Treatment Tips
Allergy testing, either by blood or skin test, can be done on children older than 2 months, but test results are harder to interpret in children this young because their immune system is still immature. Try to minimize baby’s exposure to some common allergens before resorting to testing by:
- Covering mattresses and pillows with dust mite-proof covers
- Having your cat or dog spend a week out of the house
- Putting away feather pillows
- Switching to a hypoallergenic laundry detergent
Preventing Allergies in Babies
If allergies run in your family, there are measures you can take to help your child avoid allergies:
- Breastfeed your baby for at least six months. You can increase the benefits of breastfeeding if you avoid eating allergenic foods including milk, eggs, fish, and nuts
- If you don’t nurse, use a hypoallergenic protein hydrolysate formula (made up of protein that’s so broken down it’s virtually undetectable by the immune system).
Decrease baby’s exposure to common allergens by creating a hypoallergenic environment for baby:
- Don’t allow smoking in your home
- Use dust-mite-proof mattress covers and pillowcases
- Clean regularly to decrease the concentration of dust, mold, and feathers in your home
- Avoid carpeting (especially in baby’s room)
- Keep your home pet-free if possible
- By the editors of American Baby
Eye Allergies (Allergic Conjunctivitis)
Eye allergies, also called “allergic conjunctivitis,” are a common eye condition. The tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and outside of the eyeball is called the conjunctiva. This tissue keeps your eyelid and eyeball moist. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when this tissue becomes inflamed. With eye allergies, you usually see redness and itching in both eyes, instead of in just one eye.
What Causes Eye Allergies?
Eye allergies are a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens that get into your eyes. Examples of these are pollen, mold spores, dust mites and pet dander. Eye allergies are not contagious. They cannot be spread to another person.
Irritants like dirt, smoke, chemicals, and chlorine can also cause swelling and redness of the eyes. This reaction is not an allergic reaction. Viruses and bacteria can also cause the same irritation of the eyes. This reaction is also not an allergic reaction. Some medications and cosmetics can also cause eye allergy symptoms.
The eyes are an easy target for allergens and irritants because they are exposed and sensitive. The body responds to these allergens by releasing chemicals, including histamines, which produce the inflammation.
Pink eye is something different. It is a viral or bacterial infection of the eye tissue. It’s called infectious conjunctivitis. It usually starts in one eye and can spread easily to the other eye within a day or two. This eye condition is easily transmitted from person to person. But it is usually not a serious health risk if diagnosed right away.
What Are the Signs of Eye Allergies?
The common symptoms of eye allergies are:
- Burning feeling
- Watery eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Feeling like there is dirt or grit in your eyes
You may also have a runny or itchy nose, sneezing, coughing or a sinus headache. Many also find that their vision is briefly blurred or that they feel distracted, unproductive or tired.
What Is the Treatment for Eye Allergies?
The first and best option is to avoid contact with substances that trigger your eye allergies. If that is not enough, consider using:
- Saline eye drops to wash away the allergens
- Over-the-counter medicine or eye drops (short-term use)
- Prescription treatments from your doctor
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy) from your doctor
Eye allergy symptoms may disappear completely when the allergen is removed or after the allergy is treated. Talk to your pharmacist and health care provider about what is best for you.
How Can I Prevent Eye Allergies?
The first and best option is to avoid contact with things that trigger your eye allergies. Other tips are:
- Don’t touch or rub your eye(s).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Use a vacuum with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter to reduce exposure to allergens.
- Wash your bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens.
- Use allergen covers (encasements) for pillows, comforters, duvets, mattresses and consider using them for box springs.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom to reduce pet dander allergen in your bedding.
- Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to help keep pollen from getting into your eyes.
- Keep windows closed during high pollen and mold seasons. Use the air conditioner in your car and home. Also, think about using a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter.
Medical Review October 2015.
Looking at specific foods and numbers, let’s start with egg allergy in children. 12% outgrow this by age 6, 37% by age 10, and 68% by age 16. Recent studies suggest this can be helped along by consumption of baked eggs (if allowed by a child’s physician.) Children with one food allergy have a 35% chance of having other food allergies. Food allergic children are also at increased risk of developing asthma and seasonal/pet allergies, especially if they have eczema.
Cow’s milk allergy in children resolves in 42% by age 8, 64% by age 12, and 79% by age 16. Soy allergy and wheat allergy in children have similar rates of resolution.
In contrast, with peanuts, only 20% of kids will outgrow peanut allergy by age 5 and this is only in those who have low levels of peanut allergy in the blood to begin with. Higher levels in the blood usually indicate more lifelong allergy. This is similar to what is seen with tree nuts. Also, if there is a parent or sibling with peanut allergy, the risk of developing this is much higher.
So, as you can see, there’s no short answer to the question “When will my food allergy go away?” It depends on many factors including age, food type and test result history. People who suffer from food allergy should work closely with their Allergy Partners providers to come up with the best individualized answers for them.
Dr. Ty Coleman
Allergy Partners of the Midlands
Food allergies, Food Allergies Go Away – Outgrowing Food Allergies
Most children outgrow thumb-sucking, diapers, and baby talk. So what about outgrowing food allergies?
Food allergies are the result of the immune system gone awry. This happens when the body mistakenly believes a food to be dangerous and overreacts to protect itself. Food allergies can be short-lived or can last a lifetime. Today, there are more kids with food allergies, fewer kids are outgrowing them, and for those who do outgrow them, it’s happening later in life.
Did you know, food allergies that are outgrown may even resurface later in life. It would be great if food allergies were like a Houdini act and we could make them disappear! Sometimes food allergies are a guessing game, but we know of a number of factors that we think influence food allergy longevity and when a child outgrows them. Here are just a few standouts.
- The Food Culprits
There seems to be a pecking order to outgrowing food allergies. Milk, eggs and soy tend to be outgrown more easily and earlier than allergies to nuts and seafood. Research findings point to the easy breakdown of milk and egg proteins in food preparation, especially in baking as the dry heat is able to break down the proteins. Other food proteins are built tougher, are more resistant to breakdown, and are thus more allergenic even after cooking.
Ethnicity, gender, and genetics may impact whether and when you see diminishing or disappearing food allergies. According to some research, odds are stacked against African American children, females, children with multiple food allergies, those with more severe food allergic reactions, and those with food allergy that develops later in life.
- Location, location, location!
Where you live may play a role in your allergy profile too. This may be associated with different environments and eating habits of your home and neighborhood. Southern living in America may find you more prone to developing allergies than your Northern countrymen, and urban dwellers may be more prone to allergy than their rural counterparts.
Treatment, testing and tolerance
Approaches abound for tolerance testing and even inducing tolerances to certain allergies. Following are a few of the trending tests and tolerance inducing approaches. These should always be conducted under medical supervision, as potential for severe reactions is possible.
- Under the tongue
Known as sublingual or oral immunotherapy (SLIT or OIT), this is a method associated with allergy testing and may also be effective in building tolerance to certain foods. During the treatment, a small amount of offending food is placed under the tongue or in the mouth and reaction monitored. As you can imagine, this is a risky process and should not be attempted at home. Ask your allergy care team if this is an option for you.
- Bites of baked goods or baked good challenge
This treatment involves giving samples of pancakes, muffins and other baked goods with incremental increases in the portion size offered when positive tolerance is demonstrated.
- Early Exposure
Recent research has suggested that offering foods that are common allergens to infants when they are ready to start solid foods may actually help prevent the risk of developing food allergies for some. This is counter to the still common approach of waiting until later ages (1 to 2 years old) to introduce these foods, which may actually increase the risk of developing a food allergy for some individuals, especially those deemed at high risk for food allergies.
Future of Food Allergies
Efforts continue to explore the science behind the basis of food allergies as many mysteries remain. Still hard to explain is the who, what, when, why, and where of allergies. As it is, there is no magic pill, potion, or trick that can make food allergies go away. Yes, some children will have their food allergies diminish and disappear and some children will outgrow them. While waiting for Houdini to make them go away for good, there are support and resources that can help.
What has your family’s experience been with outgrowing food allergies?
-Jody L. Benitz, MS, RDN
NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel, Boyce JA, Assa’ad A, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: report of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126(6 Suppl):S1-S58.
Food Allergy Sensitization — New Study Finds Geography Plays a Role. By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD.Today’s Dietitian, July 2014, Vol. 16 No. 7 P. 12.
Blood tests may be less accurate than skin tests. So if the blood test does suggest an allergy, the next step for your little sniffler may be a skin test. You’ll need to see an allergist for that.
During a skin test, an allergist applies small amounts of common allergens to your child’s skin. If your child is allergic to a substance, she’ll have a reaction similar to a mosquito bite on that spot. Infants may have smaller reactions than older children, but the tests can still be very useful.
“Keep in mind that testing tells you what your child is allergic to at that point, but it may change as your child gets older,” says Seattle pediatric allergist Frank S. Virant. If your child has a negative skin test but continues to have allergy symptoms, have her reevaluated in six to 12 months.
How can I protect my child from allergens?
Here are the best ways to reduce your child’s exposure to the most common allergens:
Dust mites live in fabrics and carpets and are common in every room of the house. But children are usually exposed to the most dust mites in the bedroom, where mattresses and pillows are veritable dust-mite condominiums.
The following steps may seem like a lot of work, but they really help.
“Parents who take these steps might expect a 60 to 70 percent rate of improvement in their child’s allergies,” says Virant, “and this should markedly cut down the level of medication needed for the problem.”
- Encase your child’s mattress in an impenetrable cover made of very tightly woven fabric, found at allergy supply stores. Unlike vinyl covers, these provide a barrier that’s breathable and not crinkly. Avoid big, fluffy comforters and use blankets instead.
- Wash bedding once a week in hot water to kill dust mites. Set your water heater to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit before laundering bedding, and warn family members that the water will be hotter than usual. Be sure to turn the water heater back down (to about 120 to 125 degrees) afterward so family members won’t scald themselves when they wash their hands or shower.
- Avoid piling up stuffed animals in your child’s room – they’re dust-mite magnets. Wash the few favorites your child can’t live without in hot water weekly or stick them in the freezer for an overnight killing frost.
- Dust and vacuum weekly or every other week, but make sure your child isn’t in the room when you do it. Dusting and vacuuming stir up residual dust-mite particles in the room. Wet mopping can help prevent this.
- Consider investing in a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency-particulate-arresting) filter, which traps even microscopic particles that pass right through ordinary vacuum cleaners.
- If your child has a severe dust mite allergy, consider replacing carpeting with a smooth floor like hardwood or vinyl.
- Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioners monthly during seasons they’re in use. Have heating ducts cleaned each fall.
If your child is allergic to a pet, the only foolproof solution is to give the animal away. That’s not an easy decision to make, of course, and, understandably, you’ll want to consider it only as a last resort.
To keep the dander down, wash your pet frequently. You can find shampoos that reduce dander in the pet store. Also keep your pet off the furniture and out of your child’s room.
During allergy season it can be close to impossible to avoid airborne pollens. You can try to keep your child indoors with the windows closed during the height of pollen season, particularly on windy days, but this may be unrealistic.
If your child does go outdoors, make sure you bathe her and wash her hair each night to remove any airborne allergens. Dry her clothes in the dryer rather than on the clothesline, and close the air ducts to her bedroom.
Keep tabs on the pollen counts in your area so you know which days to be particularly mindful of your child’s exposure.
Use a dehumidifier and air conditioner when the weather is warm and moist, especially in a wet basement or other areas of your home where mold growth is a problem.
If your bathroom is a mold factory, clean it regularly with mold-inhibiting disinfectants, such as a little bleach and water or a natural solution like tea tree oil and water. And consider investing in a better ventilation system.
Mold can often be found growing in closets, attics, cellars, planters, refrigerators, shower stalls, and garbage cans and under carpets. Even a fake Christmas tree can harbor mold.
Are there any medications that can help my child?
Yes, but don’t give her over-the-counter allergy medicine without talking to your doctor first.
He may suggest antihistamines or a nasal steroid spray and offer you a prescription. Many of the newer allergy medicines have fewer side effects than other products on the market, though these medications are not approved for children younger than 6 months.
What about allergy shots?
If your child is really plagued by allergies, an allergist might suggest allergy shots (immunotherapy), but usually not until she’s 4 to 6 years old. There are occasional exceptions for younger children, such as kids with severe asthma.
Allergy shots are given in the doctor’s office and contain small doses of the offending allergen — like pollen, mites, or dander – that help your child’s body get used to the substance over time.
With allergy shots, what usually happens is this: Your child receives weekly shots for about four to six months, until she’s been exposed to enough of the allergen to train her body to tolerate it as well as possible. Then she continues getting shots once or twice a month for four to six months, followed by monthly shots for a year.
After that, the doctor evaluates the need for further treatments. If the shots have been helpful, your child might continue getting them for years.
What can I do to prevent my child from getting allergies in the first place?
There’s a lot of conflicting information about preventing or delaying allergies by postponing – or accelerating – a child’s exposure to potential allergens.
“Someday we’ll be able to look at genetics and really know what a child is destined to be allergic to and what to do about it,” says Virant. “But the reality is that, right now, there’s nothing that predictably helps.”
Of course, if you or your mate is allergic to cats, you won’t want a feline in the house anyway. (Ditto for any other allergy-causing animal or substance.)
And keeping your home – in particular your child’s room – clean and as free of mold and dust mites as possible is a good idea, regardless of whether your child has allergies.
Infant colds: What’s normal and what’s not
Dr. Todd Twogood, a pediatrician at the Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck, North Dakota, talks about infant colds and what parents can do to help.
What causes the common cold?
The general cause of a common cold is a virus. A few common viruses are rhinovirus, enterovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A lot of parents have misconceptions of RSV and believe that if their child gets it they’re going to end up in the hospital, quite sick or even develop asthma. But, that’s not quite true. Since 96 percent of all children develop RSV at least once before they’re 2, it can be considered a common cold as well.
Related: Winter’s worst bugs — Protect your child from RSV
What are the symptoms of a cold in an infant?
Symptoms of a cold in an infant generally start with a low grade fever and nasal congestion. Infants get all plugged up inside and then two to three days later generally start having a lot of post-nasal drip, increasing a cough and causing a runny nose. If your child has a green or yellow runny nose in the first three to four days of a cold, that’s normal and not considered a sinus infection — it’s just that the mucus has been setting in the nose for so long. That generally fades away within seven to 10 days and the fever is usually gone in two to three days.
Is there anything parents can do to prevent a cold?
Avoid close contact with your child. More specifically, no sharing cups, spoons or straws. Your child should also have their own towel when they have a cold. You should avoid close kissing as well. You can maybe kiss them on the forehead, but not too close.
What do you know about the common cold? Take our quiz.
What can a parent do at home to help a child with a cold?
Humidified air is one of the best things you can do. It will help lubricate the nasal sinuses and prevent cough. If your child’s uncomfortable, use of Tylenol and Ibuprofen would be appropriate. Use upright positioning for small infants and children, but only while they’re awake, and flat positioning while they sleep. Nasal saline can also help congestion.
Is there anything that a parent should NOT do?
The first thing a parent shouldn’t do is worry. Most colds last seven to 10 days. As long as your child is comfortable and does not have prolonged fever or respiratory difficulties, hang in there and things will get better. Just provide supportive care to your child. Visit a health care professional if you have further concerns.
When does a child need to see a physician?
During a cold, your baby or infant may need to see a physician or health care professional if their symptoms are prolonged. If they extend past seven to 10 days, you may want to call or bring your child in. If there are symptoms such as irritability, prolonged fever or respiratory difficulty, make sure to see a physician or health care professional.
How long will it take for the child to get better?
With a cold, your child should get better within seven to 10 days. If you have more serious concerns be sure to call or visit your provider. Children with special needs or chronic health care conditions may need to be seen earlier or with special consideration. But, all of our children deserve that special love and attention.
- Choosing a doctor for your child
- Ear infections in children: What to do and what to know
- How to manage your child’s food allergies
- Children’s specialty care: A team approach
Recommendations from Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises not using over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines for children younger than age 4. From age 4 to 6, these medicines should only be used if your child’s health care provider tells you to. Several studies show that cold and cough products don’t work in young children and they can have possibly serious side effects.
Many products also have a mix of ingredients meant to treat more than a single symptom, possibly including symptoms your child does not have. This also increases the risk that your child may overdose on an ingredient if you are giving your child more than one medicine.
Ask your child’s health care provider what he or she advises for different symptoms. Do this before your child gets a cold.
Here are some common cold symptoms and ingredients to look for on labels if your child’s provider advises medicine.
Fever and pain
Typical colds don’t cause more than a slight fever in kids. It’s OK to let a slight fever run its course if your child is taking liquids and acting well. In fact, fever may help your child’s natural immune system fight off the infection sooner. Only two OTC fever or pain medicines are available for children: acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Others are available by prescription. Both help aches and ease fevers. Some multi-ingredient cold medicines contain one or the other of these ingredients. So read labels carefully so you won’t give extra medicine that may not be needed.
Never give aspirin to infants, children, or teens because of the risk for Reye syndrome. This is a rare but possibly fatal disease that can cause liver and brain damage.
Call your child’s health care provider right away if your child is younger than 3 months old and has a fever over 100.4°F (38°C).
Stuffy nose and sneezing
If your child has a runny nose, use a bulb syringe to gently suction out the mucus. Or have your child blow his or her nose. Antihistamines only work if the runny nose is caused by allergies. Antihistamines don’t work well for the common cold.
For a blocked nose, saltwater (saline) spray or drops may help. They dilute the mucus. This makes it easier for the child to blow it out or for you to suction it out. There are no medicines that can remove mucus from the nose. You can buy saline drops and spray at the pharmacy. Or you can make your own by mixing ½ teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm tap water. For babies, use the drops before feeding. Older babies and children may use the drops or spray whenever their nose is blocked. Don’t give your child OTC medicated nasal sprays without first talking with your health care provider.
For babies younger than one year, it is enough to keep them well hydrated and comfortable. Ask your child’s health care provider if your child should have extra water or warm fluids. For children older than a year, honey may be more helpful than any OTC cough medicine and is much safer. Give your child ½ to one teaspoon of honey as needed. Don’t give honey to babies younger than a year. They are at risk of getting a disease called infantile botulism.
Children in daycare or school often spread colds to each other. Keep your child at home if they have a cold or if many children in the class have colds.
Your child can help prevent colds by washing their hands often, by not touching their nose or eyes, and by staying away from people with colds or upper respiratory infections. Alcohol-based hand gels can help prevent spreading a cold or other viral infection.
Feeling better without medicine
There isn’t enough scientific proof to back claims about vitamin C, echinacea and zinc for cold relief. But the following suggestions may help your child feel more comfortable:
- Liquids. Give your child plenty of water or other liquids to drink.
- Cough drops. Lemon and peppermint drops can help a scratchy throat. Cough drops should only be given to older children who can handle hard candies without a risk of choking.
- Bed rest. If your child seems tired, let them relax.
- Steam. Steam treatment can be helpful. Use cool mist humidifiers at night. Warm humidifiers are not advised because they can burn a child. Mold can grow in any humidifier. So clean the equipment well between uses. Running a warm shower in the same room as your child may also ease symptoms if you don’t have a humidifier.
Posted In Children’s, Health Information