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Coping with spring allergies in children

While you can’t control your child’s spring allergies, you can control the effect they have on your child by adopting certain habits.

Does your child suffer from spring allergies? If so, here’s what you can do…

While most of us welcome spring with open arms, if your child suffers from seasonal allergies, you likely have tears in your eyes just thinking of your child coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and itching. It’s sad but true – spring can trigger allergies for many children and put a damper on spending days outside soaking up the weather and enjoying the wonderful flower blooms.

“Seasonal allergies affect as much as 30 percent of all South Africans but there are ways to limit the discomfort allergies cause,” says Dr Kgosi Letlape, Dettol’s representative and member of The Global Hygiene Council.

What is an allergy?

Simply put, an allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. When the body overreacts to an allergen (usually ‘safe’ environmental substances, ranging from food to common medicines, dust, pollen, and many more) it causes an inflammatory response in the body of the affected individual.

Pollen can cause hay fever

For many children, the change from winter to spring can bring about sneezing, wheezing, coughing, snorting, and itching, due to the increased pollen count in the air.  Allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever, is caused by outdoor allergens including pollen and certain weeds, grasses, and trees.

You can minimise your child’s discomfort by:

  • When coming indoors, wash your child’s face and hands thoroughly to remove any pollen that may have come into contact with their skin.
  • Damp-wiping surfaces with cleaning products that are proven to remove allergens.
  • Keeping windows and doors closed on warm, dry days when the pollen count is generally high.
  • Avoiding places such as grassy, open spaces, and wearing glasses or sunglasses to stop pollen spores from coming into contact with your child’s eyes.

Mould can trigger sneezing

Mould releases tiny spores into the air, which, when breathed in, may cause allergic reactions. Certain kinds of mould can be seen with the naked eye but others are invisible. Mould thrives in damp, warm, humid environments like bathrooms, refrigerators, and musty cupboards. 

You can limit your child’s exposure to mould by:

  • Cleaning problem areas such as refrigerator door seals and shower curtains with a trusted cleaning agent.
  • Avoiding damp and musty places which are known to house mould.
  • Keeping your home dry and well-ventilated.

Spring clean to rid your home of dust mites

Does your child felt itchy or have difficulty breathing during or immediately after you’ve vacuumed, swept, or dusted your house? This may be due to a dust allergy. The process of cleaning stirs up dust particles and mites, making them easier for your child to inhale.  Symptoms of dust allergies in children include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. Dust mites are the most common trigger and are often found in pillows, mattresses, carpeting, and upholstered furniture.

To manage your child’s distress, you can:

  • Remove carpets, particularly in your child’s bedroom.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and preferably out of the house.
  • Minimise the humidity in your home by opening the windows or finding other ways of increasing ventilation.
  • Frequently wash your child’s bed linen in hot water.

A word on pets and allergies

While we love our furry friends, some children are allergic to animal fur. Pets shed dander, which is a combination of dead skin cells and fine hair (or feathers), which can often trigger asthma attacks and other allergic reactions in some children. 

If your child is allergic to animal fur or feathers,  you can try the following steps:

  • Damp-wipe household surfaces and floors with products that are proven to remove pet allergens.
  • Keep pets outside your child’s bedroom.
  • Keep pets off the carpets and soft furniture, or vacuum and wash carpets and upholstery often.

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