Hayfever Relief for Children
Hayfever affects many Australians, and unfortunately children are not excluded. Children who get hayfever suffer most during spring and summer, when the pollen count in the air reaches its peak. However, this is not always the case. If your child is allergic to other allergens such as dust mites, mould and animal dander, they could experience hayfever symptoms anytime of the year.
When a child inhales an allergen, such as pollen, irritation can occur to the delicate lining of their eyes, sinuses and nasal passages. As a result, they may experience uncomfortable symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watering eyes. If your child is experiencing these symptoms for the first time, it is best to speak to your Doctor or Advantage Pharmacist to be sure the problem is hayfever. Additionally, it is best to see your Doctor if you notice that your child is experiencing any of the following:
- A high fever, above 38°C;
- Trouble breathing;
- Your child is much more sleepy than usual and doesn’t want to feed or play;
- You notice signs of a secondary infection, such as a green runny nose or yellow discharge around their eye/s;
- Their symptoms are not improving within 14 days, especially after the use of recommended medicine or treatment.
The best treatment for allergies is to avoid what your child is allergic to. Often this is not always an easy task, however, below are some simple steps to help control common allergens for seasonal allergies.
- Check the pollen count forecast on television or in the newspaper. Try to keep your child indoors if it’s a high count or when the lawn is being mowed.
- After school, keep your child indoors as much as possible in spring, on windy days or after thunderstorms.
- If your child must be outdoors during high pollen days, you may like to smear a small dab of petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) inside their nose to stop the pollen from touching the lining of their nose.
- In your garden, choose plants that are pollinated by birds or insects, rather than plants that release their seeds into the air.
- You could consider replacing your lawn with bricked or paved areas.
- Encourage your child to take a shower after school to help wash off any pollen. They may also feel some relief after splashing their eyes often during the day with cold water, again to flush out any pollen.
If your child’s hayfever symptoms are mild, then you may like to consider giving them an antihistamine to help relieve most of their symptoms. Antihistamine preparations for children are available at your local Advantage Pharmacy in different forms e.g. as drops, syrup and tablets. For general hayfever symptoms, antihistamine syrups such as Aerius for Children Syrup or Claratyne for Children Syrup, which do not cause drowsiness, are suitable for children above the age of 1 year. Zyrtec Children’s Syrup is just as effective in treating common hayfever symptoms, however a small percentage of individuals may experience drowsiness with this medication, thus caution should be taken. For children above the age of 2 years that are not too fond of the syrups, a chewable tablet, such as Claratyne Chewable Tablets, is a suitable alternative.
In cases where a particular symptom is troubling your child, such as a runny nose or itchy eyes, and the oral antihistamine medication has not provided them with enough relief, you may also like to try a treatment specifically for the ‘eyes’ and/or ‘nose’.
For itchy and watery little eyes
- Use a wet washcloth and gently wipe their eyelids and surrounding face to help wash away any allergens.
- Rinse their eyes with a small amount of lukewarm water or saline solution twice a day.
- Gently apply a cold wet washcloth to their itchy eyes to help reduce some of the irritation.
- Additionally, you could try using a lubricating eye drop or ‘artificial tears’ such as Systane or Refresh Plus, 4 times per day, to further flush out pollens and soothe irritated eyes.
- Antihistamine eye drops, such as Zatiden Eye Drops, can provide further relief, however this product can only be used by children above the age of 3 years.
For stuffy or runny little noses
- Instead of one of the antihistamine preparations mentioned above, your child may benefit form a product which also contains a decongestant e.g. Demazin Clear Syrup. This product contains an antihistamine to help reduce allergy symptoms, and a decongestant to help unblock little noses. It is available for children aged above 2 years.
- A saline nasal spray or drops (e.g. Hamilton’s Narium Baby Drops) may assist in removing some of the mucus and pollen in your child’s nose. These drops are not medicated and can be used as often as required.
- For further symptom relief, your child may benefit from using a medicated nasal spray which can help reduce some of the inflammation in their nose and reduce the mucus production. Ask your Advantage Pharmacist about Beconase Allergy & Hay fever 12 hour, which is available for children aged above 3 years. This spray starts to work within 3-7 hours after use. Best results are seen after several days of continual use.
- Keep a diary of where and when your child experiences hayfever symptoms. It is important to note down which plants or flowers e.g. pine trees or grass pollens, may trigger their symptoms.
- Although your child’s eyes may get very itchy, it is important to teach them to avoid rubbing them. Rubbing their eyes could in fact make inflammation worse.
- If your child’s hayfever is very bad and is stopping them from doing many of the things that they like to do, skin testing may be suggested to find out their specific allergic triggers. Speak to your Doctor if your child’s symptoms are of concern.