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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Preventing Your Child’s Seasonal Allergies

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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Preventing Your Child’s Seasonal Allergies

Sep 26, 2022

Seasonal allergies are miserable. No doubt about that. But do some of the things you’ve been told to help prevent allergy symptoms really work? Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner debunks some of the common myths about seasonal allergies and shares tips to help your child avoid sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny noses.

Episode Transcript

Allergies make us miserable. No doubt. But some of what you've heard about protecting your child against allergies may be an old wives' tale. I'll let you know what's true and what's false about seasonal allergies on today's Scope.

One of the biggest questions parents ask me when I tell them that their child has seasonal allergies is, "How can I prevent them from making my child miserable?" Some tried-and-true things you can do is to keep them indoors during high pollen times. This is usually early morning between 5:00 a.m. and 10:0 a.m. and then again at dusk. Also, if it's windy outside or someone is cutting the grass and your child is allergic to grass, keep them indoors. This means keeping the windows closed too.

Opening windows can allow allergens from outdoors to come in the home. An air conditioner is better than a fan if needed. Fans can pull in pollen as well. Pets that spend time outside can bring allergens from outside inside. It can be on their paws or on their fur. The key here is helping your child avoid what they're allergic to will decrease their chances of having an allergic reaction.

Another tip is to shower your child every night before bed. Pollen likes to stick on exposed body parts and collect in hair, so be sure to do a good scrubbing. Pollen tends to cause allergic reactions by being in your child's nose. But sometimes if a child has an allergy to grass, for example, and they go rolling around in the grass, they can get a rash or even hives. Covering up may or may not help that. It all depends on how sensitive your child is.

Many laundry detergents also help remove allergens from clothing. Just be sure to use one that says it's dye and fragrance free, as many kids with allergies tend to be sensitive to the smells and colors in some detergents. A big myth about allergies is that if you expose your child to whatever they are allergic to, that will help your child become immune and will decrease their allergy. While this is the basis for allergy shots, there's a lot more science behind immunotherapy, and it's very calculated as to how much allergen is in the shot serum. Exposing your child to whatever they're allergic to will only cause an allergic response.

Finally, allergies are not contagious. They are inherited. So if parents have allergies, there's a higher risk that their children will have them. But they aren't spread from kid to kid like cold viruses are. There are a lot of things your child's pediatrician can suggest to help with allergies. If your child is miserable every spring and fall or even year round, time to schedule an appointment to see how to best manage your child's allergies.

updated: September 26, 2022
originally published: September 17, 2018