One look at my then 4-year-old’s puffy eyes and I knew I had an allergy-sufferer on my hands.
I made the call to our pediatrician immediately, but then I put into practice the advice I give my patients. While we waited to decide the best medical course of action, I worked on what I could control: my son’s environment. Here are my top 10 tricks for managing your surroundings to ease the burden of your child’s seasonal allergies.
- Bathe your child daily: Before he really gets into the house, we have my son strip off all of the clothes he’s been wearing to play outside. Then it’s straight into the shower to scrub the pollen off his skin and rinse it out of his hair.
- Bathe your pet, too: Lucky for us, my highly allergic son is not allergic to pets, so we have a family dog. But the dog, who runs around outside and collects pollen as readily as the kids, gets regular baths, too.
- Do the laundry: Get those dirty clothes into the wash as soon as you reasonably can. Put your child in fresh clothes daily and clean pajamas at night. Wash the sheets at least once a week.
- Clean your whole bed: Mattresses and comforters are a paradise for dust mites and pollen. Cover your mattress with an allergy mattress cover for an extra layer of protection, and put your bedding in the dryer on the hottest setting. A good half hour and the heat will take care of any unwanted allergens.
- Close the windows: That light breeze may feel good during the day, but you’ll regret welcoming it into your home when your child is wheezing at 2 a.m. If you can, opt for the AC, and keep the house sealed tight.
- Change air filters: Furnace and air conditioning filters are cheap and pretty easy to install. Buy them in bulk, and change regularly.
- Pay attention to the pollen count: We have this site bookmarked on our home computers to keep tabs on the pollen and mold counts. We limit outdoor activities when they’re especially high.
- Vacuum: You want to keep floors and surfaces free of dust and pollen, but using a broom or a plain dust cloth can just stir those allergens up. Opt for a vacuum instead.
- Take your medicine: Over-the-counter allergy medications can work wonders on children with persistent allergies. Find the one that works best for your child, and start including allergy medicine in the daily routine around Valentine’s Day or at the start of the school year for fall allergy sufferers. That way, when allergy season hits, your child will be ready.
- Talk to your doctor: Your pediatrician has undoubtedly seen many kids with seasonal allergies. Talk to her about your child’s symptoms. She may recommend anything from trying a saline mist to making an appointment with an allergist.
My son is now 11, and while he still suffers from seasonal allergies, he enjoys the seasons. He plays baseball and soccer and we spend lots of time outside as a family. He is proof that allergies are treatable, you just have to find what works for your child.
Disclaimer: This post was updated on 6/1/2018 to reflect current pediatric recommendations.