An Overview of Seasonal Allergies in Kids

While not often serious, seasonal allergies in kids can be very unpleasant. Your child may experience symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, red eyes, or a runny nose. Knowing the symptoms, you can treat allergies before they become more bothersome.

Read more about the steps to take to treat seasonal allergies in kids and information about their causes and prevention methods.

Signs of Seasonal Allergies in Children

Verywell / Theresa Chiechi

What Are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies are reactions to things that are only around during certain times of the year. These are also known as pollen allergies or hay fever

Pollen is a powdery substance that plants release to reproduce. When a person has a pollen allergy, their body reacts to the pollen as a foreign substance, then attacks it.

Seasonal allergies affect a person only during certain seasons. For instance:

  • Tree pollen: If your child has an allergy to tree pollen, they will have allergy symptoms in the spring.
  • Grass pollen: If they have a grass pollen allergy, their symptoms will occur in the summer.
  • Weeds and mold: Weed pollen and mold spore allergies crop up in the fall. 

Some people have allergies to all kinds of pollen. If your child has tree, grass, weed, and mold allergies, seasonal allergies may bother them for much of the year. 

Common Seasonal Allergies in Kids

Seasonal allergies often run in families. That means if you or your child’s other parent has seasonal allergies, your kids are more likely to have them, too.

Seasonal Allergies

Common seasonal allergies in kids include tree pollen, plant pollen, and even insect bites and stings.

In addition, some allergy triggers may seem seasonal but really aren’t. For instance, if your child is exposed to allergens such as a school pet or mold at school, their symptoms may only occur during the school year.

Signs and Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergy symptoms in kids are the same as in adults. However, depending on your child’s age, they may not be able to tell you about their symptoms. So, it may take a bit of detective work to determine whether your child’s symptoms are from allergies. 

Seasonal allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing 
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Frequent sinus or ear infections
  • Trouble sleeping

Telltale Signs in Kids

If your child is doing any of the following, you might suspect allergies:

  • Rubbing their face
  • Exhibiting a red line on their nose from pushing up on it
  • Having trouble concentrating at school or other activities
  • Sounding stuffy and congested
  • Eating with their mouth open because they can’t breathe

Diagnosis and Treatment of Seasonal Allergies in Kids

Allergies are diagnosed by a physical exam, taking a medical history, evaluating symptoms, and allergy testing. If you suspect your child has allergies, your child’s pediatrician may refer them to an allergist—a doctor specializing in allergies—for testing.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of allergies requires tests that can confirm the presence of an allergy and pinpoint what allergen is causing your child problems. The most common test is a skin test, but blood tests may also be used.

  • Skin test: A small amount of allergen is scratched into the skin. The area is then observed to see if a raised bump appears. If so, it indicates an allergy. Skin tests are painless and can be done on very young children.
  • Blood test: Blood tests are considered less reliable than skin tests. They measure IgE antibodies in the blood to determine whether a person may have allergies.

Treatment

Treating seasonal allergies in kids begins with avoiding the allergen. This can be challenging with seasonal allergies, however, since pollen is prolific when kids most want to play outside. 

Here are some things to try:

  • Test: Have your child tested for allergies, so you know which triggers to avoid.
  • Close windows: During peak pollen periods, keep windows closed and use central air with filters instead.
  • Bathe: Have your child shower or bathe at the end of the day to remove allergens from their hair and body.
  • Stay inside: Try to keep your child indoors when mowing the lawn if they are allergic to grass, and have them avoid playing in piles of leaves if they are allergic to mold. Keep an eye on pollen counts, and consider keeping your child inside when counts are high.

In addition to at-home prevention strategies, talk to your child’s doctor about medications and therapies that may help your child’s symptoms. These include:

Ways to Control Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies often appear in childhood. Sometimes kids outgrow allergies, but they can be a lifelong condition, thus learning how to control them is important.

Statistics

Seasonal allergies in kids are common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5.2 million kids in the United States have hay fever.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies. However, it is possible to control symptoms. Not only does managing symptoms keep your child more comfortable, but it may also keep them safer. 

That’s because kids with allergies are at higher risk of developing asthma. Therefore, controlling allergy symptoms may help prevent asthma attacks.

You can help control your child’s allergies by:

  • Limiting their exposure to pollen and molds
  • Using medication and other therapies to treat their symptoms

Summary

Seasonal allergies in children are often due to tree pollen, grass pollen, weeds, or mold. Symptoms may include sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and frequent ear infections. Allergies can be diagnosed by physical examination, history, and testing. Lifestyle tactics can help reduce exposure to allergens, and medications are available.

A Word From Verywell

If your child has seasonal allergies, you may be looking for ways to help alleviate their discomfort. While there is no cure for allergies, the good news is that there are many ways to manage allergy symptoms.

Try to limit your child’s exposure to pollen as much as you can. Things like keeping windows closed, bathing at the end of the day, and staying indoors when pollen counts are high are all things that can help.

If you have difficulty managing your child’s seasonal allergy symptoms at home, it’s a good idea to talk to your child’s doctor. Receiving an allergy test and confirming which pollens they are allergic to can help you avoid certain triggers. In addition, your child’s doctor will help you figure out if medications or other therapies are best for your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age do seasonal allergies start in kids?

Seasonal allergies can develop at any age. But in kids, seasonal allergies may show up as young as 3 to 5 years old.

How do you know if your child has a cold or if they have seasonal allergies?

Allergies and colds can present with similar symptoms, but there are some key differences. For example, with seasonal allergies, nasal discharge is clear and watery. In addition, a child with allergies will often be itchy—especially their eyes and nose. Finally, allergies don’t cause a fever.

What home remedies can you use for seasonal allergies in kids?

Bathing to remove pollen, keeping windows closed during peak pollen times, and using over-the-counter (OTC) medications and remedies may help your child manage their seasonal allergies. In addition, older kids may find relief from a saline sinus rinse.

Keep in mind that not all OTC medications and natural remedies are appropriate for kids of all ages. Be sure to read labels carefully and talk to your child’s doctor before trying an OTC medication or remedy.

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