Amy Kim, MD
Amy Kim, MD

As the weather changes and nature begins to bloom, spring brings with it an array of colors, scents and, unfortunately, allergens. For many children, this season can be synonymous with sneezing, itching and watery eyes due to common spring allergies. As a parent, understanding these allergies and knowing how to help your child manage their symptoms is crucial for their well-being and enjoyment of the season.

Common Spring Allergies in Kids:

  1. Pollen: Pollen from trees, grasses and flowers is one of the most prevalent allergens during spring. When inhaled, it can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

  2. Mold: As temperatures rise and humidity increases, mold spores thrive, particularly in damp areas like basements, bathrooms and outdoor spaces.

  3. Dust Mites: While dust mites are present year-round, their populations can increase in spring as homes become warmer and more humid.

  4. Pet Dander: Shedding fur from pets can exacerbate allergies in sensitive children, especially as they spend more time outdoors during spring.

Tips for Minimizing Exposure to Allergens:

  1. Monitor Pollen Counts: Keep an eye on local pollen forecasts and try to limit outdoor activities on high pollen days. Plan outdoor activities for times when pollen counts are lower, such as after rain showers.

  2. Keep Indoor Air Clean: Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in your home's ventilation system, and consider using air purifiers in bedrooms to reduce indoor allergens like pollen, dust and mold spores.

  3. Regular Cleaning: Regularly clean and vacuum your home to remove dust and pet dander. Wash bedding and curtains in hot water to eliminate allergens.

  4. Limit Exposure to Mold: Keep indoor humidity levels below 50% to discourage mold growth. Repair leaks promptly, use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens and remove indoor houseplants that can harbor mold.

  5. Pet Care: Bathe pets frequently and brush them outdoors to reduce shedding. Designate certain areas of the home as pet-free zones, particularly bedrooms.

Managing Allergy Medications:

  1. Consult a Pediatrician: Before starting any allergy medication regimen, consult your child's pediatrician to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on their age, symptoms and medical history.

  2. Antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines can help alleviate symptoms like sneezing, itching and runny nose. Choose non-drowsy formulas (such as cetirizine or loratadine) for daytime use and administer them as directed by your child's doctor.

  3. Nasal Sprays: Nasal corticosteroid sprays can be effective in reducing nasal inflammation and congestion. Teach your child proper administration techniques and supervise their use to ensure they are used correctly.

  4. Eye Drops: Over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops can provide relief from itchy, watery eyes caused by allergies. Encourage your child to use them as needed, following the instructions on the packaging.

  5. Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy): In severe cases or when other treatments are ineffective, allergy shots may be recommended. These injections gradually desensitize the immune system to specific allergens, reducing the severity of allergic reactions over time. Talk to your pediatrician if you are interested in obtaining allergy shots for your child.

While pollen may be in the air, there are plenty of ways to help your little ones enjoy the season to the fullest. From over-the-counter antihistamines to scheduling outdoor activities during lower pollen counts, there are strategies to manage allergies effectively. With a bit of planning and care, nothing should hinder your little ones from relishing in the beautiful season this spring.