Spotting Allergy Symptoms in Kids

Allergies are extremely common, and there are many different kinds of allergies and allergy symptoms. It is good for parents to know the different kinds of allergies and how to tell the difference between an allergic reaction and a cold or mild illness. With allergies, the best thing to do is to identify the cause, and avoid exposure to it as much as possible.

Contact Dermatitis/ Contact Allergy
This is an allergy that comes from an allergen touching the skin. Typically, the part of the skin that touched the allergen will react by developing an itchy rash, red patches or raised red bumps appearing on the skin. Contact dermatitis can be treated topically with steroid creams or cortisone creams. Typical causes of contact allergies include: poison ivy, latex, dyes, topical medications and chemicals. If your child has this problem often, it's beneficial to find the cause and avoid it. There are allergy testing procedures that can be helpful when causes are hard to identify. Speak with your child's doctor.

Hives are blotchy red patches or bumps that cover large areas of the skin, and are most often a reaction to an ingested allergen. Common food allergies include nuts, strawberries, food additives, fertilizers used for growing fruits and vegetables, milk, wheat, soy, and shellfish. But hives can also be caused by many other factors, including stress, insect bites, and an allergy to medication. Hives are an indication that something has caused an allergic reaction internally. If your child develops hives, an antihistamine such as Benedryl can be an effective treatment. If hives happen repeatedly, it's a good idea to try to figure out the cause of the hives, and avoid it for the future. Hives are a warning sign from the body that an allergen is present. Continuing incidences of hives are a reason for an appointment with the physician.

Allergic Rhinitis
This is the common sinus reaction to inhaled allergens. This can worsen seasonally if the allergy is to spores or pollen, or can happen year-round, in the case of dust, pet dander, or cockroaches inside the home. Symptoms of allergy to these conditions include running nose with clear discharge, sneezing, red and/or itching eyes, and nasal congestion. Other signs of allergies in this category include dark circles under the eyes, and blocked ears.

How do you know if it's a cold or allergic rhinitis? Pay attention to the frequency of the symptoms first. Do they seem worse after your child has been playing outside? Do they get better when your child goes outside, and then reoccur when the child comes inside? Does your child seem to always have a cold during spring and late summer? Does anything seem to make the symptoms better, such as when the house is clean, running a humidifier or air purifier, or changing seasons? Do the symptoms seem to last a long time without a fever, or improvement? If you see a pattern to your child's symptoms, or they go on longer than the average cold duration, chances are he has an allergy.

Severe Allergic Reactions
If your child suddenly becomes swollen in the extremities or face, or has difficulty breathing, get him to the hospital immediately for treatment. Some parents who know their child has severe allergies are equipped with an Epi-pen to handle possible severe allergic reactions.

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