Wondering if your child’s snuffly nose and itchy eyes could be down to hay fever? If your little one is two or older, then it may well be the cause. “Hay fever used to affect only older children and teenagers, but nowadays we are seeing more and more children aged two to five years with it,” says Amena Warner, head of clinical services at the charity Allergy UK. “It now affects around a fifth of all children.”
Symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, and itchy eyes or throat. However, they don’t include a high temperature, so if your child has this, it is more likely they’ve got a cold or flu. Find out more about hay fever symptoms.
Here’s how you can help your child’s hay fever:
1. Start with a nasal saline spray
If your child has a blocked, stuffy nose, try to clear their nasal passages of pollen with a saline spray. “Any pollen allergen in the nasal mucus could sensitise the lungs and we know that people with hay fever are more likely to go on to develop asthma,” says Amena. Read more about asthma in children.
Tesco Pharmacy recommends: Stérimar Isotonic Nasal Hygiene Spray
2. Give them an antihistamine – but choose a non-drowsy one
The next line of defence is a liquid antihistamine, but make sure you go for one that won’t make them feel sleepy. “When children are learning and playing, they shouldn’t be drowsy,” says Amena. “You want them to enjoy as active a day as someone without hay fever.”
Tesco Pharmacy recommends: Benadryl Allergy Children’s Oral Solution (for children 6 years+)
3. Tell them not to rub their eyes
For some children, hay fever can make their eyes feel really itchy. But repeatedly rubbing at their eyes can lead to eye infections. To soothe eyes, try anti-allergen eye drops, suitable for children aged over two.
Tesco Pharmacy recommends: Opticrom Allergy Eye Drops
4. Trap the pollen before it strikes
Dab allergen balm around the edge of each of your child’s nostril a few times a day. This will trap the pollen – keeping it out of your child’s nose.
Tesco Pharmacy recommends: Vaseline. For children aged 5 years and older, also try Happinose Balm
5. Give them a shower
If your child has been frolicking in the park or outside all day, wash the pollen off their hair and body in the shower or bath afterwards.
6. Invest in wrap-around sunglasses
If your child suffers particularly from itchy eyes, wrap-around sunglasses will help – they’ll keep the pollen away from the eye area.
7. Keep windows closed when you’re inside
As pollen is airborne, it can enter your home through the windows, so keep them closed when you’re at home – especially in the early mornings and evenings, when the pollen count is at its highest.
8. Talk to your GP
Most hay fever can be controlled by over-the-counter medication. But if this doesn’t help your child, book an appointment with your GP who can prescribe treatments. Children with very severe symptoms can also be referred to an allergist for help.
9. Wipe down your pet
Pollen will be trapped in the fur of your cat or dog, so give their fur a wipe-down with a damp cloth when they come indoors. That way, your child will still be able to enjoy a hay fever-free snuggle with their pet.
For more information about hay fever, ask your Tesco pharmacist. Use store locator to find your nearest Tesco Pharmacy