Tips for Avoiding Spring Allergies

March 26, 2015

ST. LOUIS - While the yellow dust that gathers on cars outside this time of year may look cool to your kids, you’ll have to burst their bubble. The film of yellow sticky stuff isn’t fairy dust – it’s the tell-tale sign that spring allergy season is underway. When trees bloom the resulting pollen (i.e., yellow dust) may cause irritating allergy symptoms for many kids. However, taking precautions with kids that display allergies symptoms and pursuing appropriate treatment can make spring allergy season survivable.

There are several indicators that a child may be suffering from allergies such as itchy nose and eyes. Usually children don’t experience fever and the symptoms last longer than a week. Parents should also take note of the appearance of any nasal discharge, which is usually watery and clear if allergy related, but thick and white when a virus is present.

While it’s hard to keep kids indoors when the weather is nice, by taking certain precautions you can limit exposure:

  • Make your home a safe haven from pollen. Refrain from opening doors and windows when the weather is pleasant as this allows pollen inside. Instead, use an air conditioner to regulate temperatures.  
  • Avoid extended periods of time outside in the morning when tree pollen counts are highest.
  • When kids come in from playing outside, brush their hair and have them change clothes. Just as the pollen sticks to your car, it also sticks to hair and clothing.
  • Have your children shower or bathe in the evening so they aren’t sleeping with pollen on their skin or in their hair.
  • Your furry friends can carry lots of pollen in their hair. Brushing pets when they come inside can help cut down on the amount of pollen in the house.

It’s nearly impossible to shield kids from pollen. But the good news is treatment with medication can help manage allergy symptoms. Start with over-the-counter medications. There are many options that won’t make your child drowsy. If that doesn’t seem to be effective, talk to your pediatrician about a prescription medication that would be a good fit for your child.

To achieve the best results, start your child’s allergy medication before pollen is present and continue taking it everyday throughout the season. Typically, spring allergy season starts in mid-March and peaks in mid-April. However, weather can make a difference. A warm spring could bring pollen earlier and a late freeze could delay the production of pollen. Watch the weather and adjust the start date of medication accordingly.  

It’s also important for parents to know that allergies shouldn’t be a free pass to miss school. Talk to your pediatrician if allergy symptoms are interfering with your child’s ability to participate in daily activities and school.

 Dr. Laura Esswein is a Mercy Clinic pediatric allergy and immunology physician with Mercy Chidlren's Hospital.

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