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Don’t let allergies cloud your child’s day

The six-week summer holiday is great for spending time outdoors. But for children with an allergy it can mean endless sneezing, streaming eyes, stuffy nose and a persistent cough.

It’s been reported that asthma, hay fever and eczema have trebled in the last 20 years, with one in two of us having one or more allergies before the age of 18. Hay fever is the most common allergy and can affect your child’s everyday life. But sometimes an unexplained rash (urticaria) or unusual bowel movements can be symptoms of an allergy too. As a parent it’s important to know what to look out for so they get the right treatment first time.

Dr Marcus Bicknell, a GP at Beechdale Surgery and Clinical Lead at Nottingham City CCG, said: “Children like to be out and about enjoying the freedom of the summer holidays. But for some, the burden of allergies can make everyday life tough, affecting social plans and emotional wellbeing. However, there are some basic precautions you can take to reduce your child’s exposure to pollen whilst you’re outdoors.”

Here’s how you can help:

  • Avoid playing or walking in grassy areas and camping – particularly in the early morning and evening and at night when pollen counts are highest.
  • Encourage your child to wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into their eyes whilst playing outdoors.
  • Change their clothes when returning home from a day out, as pollen can cling to their hair and clothing.
  • Give them a bath before bed to avoid pollen transferring to their bed sheets.

If the pollen count is high (over 50) consider indoor activities and follow these steps to make your child as comfortable as possible at home:

  • Keep windows and doors shut in the house. If it gets too warm, draw the curtains to keep out the sun and keep the temperature down.
  • Don't keep fresh flowers in the house.
  • Vacuum regularly, ideally using a machine with a HEPA (high-efficiency particle arresting) filter.
  • Damp dust regularly. Dusting with a wet cloth, rather than a dry one, will collect the dust and stop any pollen from being spread around.
  • Keep pets out of the house during the hay fever season. If your pet does come indoors, wash them regularly to remove any pollen from their fur.
  • Don't smoke or let other people smoke in your house. Smoking and breathing in other people's smoke will irritate the lining of your child’s nose, eyes, throat and airways, and can make their symptoms worse.
  • If possible, avoid drying clothes outside. This will help prevent bringing pollen into your house.

For advice on over-the-counter remedies to help ease your child’s symptoms, visit your local pharmacy. You don’t need an appointment and most pharmacies have private consultation rooms where you can speak to a healthcare professional.
If your child is still struggling with persistent symptoms, help your GP by listing the symptoms, when they happen, how often they occur and if anything specific seems to trigger them. Your GP may then offer tests to identify the allergen that is causing the symptoms.

NHS111 can also offer advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All the caller has to do is dial 111 to talk to the NHS.

To find your nearest pharmacy visit www.nhs.uk and put your postcode in the search box, along with the service you need.

For more information about treating allergies visit www.nhs.uk.

Published: 29 July 2015