Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Health Issues
Text Size

Allergy Causes in Children: What Parents Can Do

What Causes Allergies?​

Children get allergies from coming into contact with allergens. Allergens can be inhaled, eaten, or injected (from stings or medicine) or they can come into contact with the skin.

Some of the more common allergens are:

  • Pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds
  • Molds, both indoor and outdoor
  • Dust mites that live in bedding, carpeting, and other items that hold moisture
  • Animal dander from furred animals such as cats, dogs, horses, and rabbits
  • Some foods and medicines
  • Venom from insect stings

Allergies tend to run in families. If a parent has an allergy, there is a higher chance that his or her child also will have allergies. This risk increases if both parents are allergic.

How Can I Help My Child?

Identifying and avoiding the things your child is allergic to is best.

If your child has an allergic condition, try the following:

  • Keep windows closed during the pollen season, especially on dry, windy days when pollen counts are highest.
  • Keep the house clean and dry to reduce mold and dust mites.
  • Avoid having pets and indoor plants.
  • Avoid those things that you know cause allergic reactions in your child.
  • Prevent anyone from smoking anywhere near your child, especially in your home and car.
  • See your pediatrician for safe and effective medicine that can be used to help alleviate or prevent allergy symptoms.

Common Allergic Conditions

Condition​ ​Triggers ​Symptoms
​Anaphylaxis ​Foods, medicines, insect stings, latex, and others ​Skin, gut, and breathing symptoms that may get worse quickly. Severe symptoms could include trouble breathing and poor blood circulation.
​Asthma ​Cigarette smoke, viral infections, pollen, dust mites, furry animals, cold air, changing weather conditions, exercise, airborne mold spores, and stress ​Coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing (especially during activities or exercise); chest tightness
Contact dermatitis ​Skin contact with poison ivy or oak, latex, household detergents and cleansers, or chemicals in some cosmetics, shampoos, skin medicines, perfumes, and jewelry ​Itchy, red, raised patches that may blister if severe. Most patches are found at the areas of direct contact with the allergen.
​Eczema (atopic dermatitis) ​Sometimes made worse by food allergies or coming in contact with allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and furry animals. May also be triggered by irritants, infections, or sweating. ​A patchy, dry, red, itchy rash in the creases of the arms, legs, and neck. In infants it often starts on the cheeks, behind the ears, and on the chest, arms, and legs.
Food allergies ​Any foods, but the most common are eggs, peanuts, milk, nuts, soy, fish, wheat, peas, and shellfish ​Vomiting, diarrhea, hives, eczema, trouble breathing, and possibly a drop in blood pressure (shock)
Hay fever ​Pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds ​Stuffy nose, sneezing, runny nose; breathing through the mouth because of stuffy nose; rubbing or wrinkling the nose and face to relieve nasal itch; watery, itchy eyes; redness or swelling in and under the eyes
​Hives ​Food allergies, viral infections, and medicines such as aspirin or penicillin. Sometimes the cause is unknown. ​Itchy skin patches, bumps (large and small) commonly known as welts that are more red or pale than the surrounding skin. Hives may be found on different parts of the body and do not stay at the same spot for more than a few hours.
Insect sting allergy ​Primarily aggressive stinging insects such as yellow jackets, wasps, and fire ants Anaphylaxis​
Medication allergy ​Various types of medicines or vaccines ​Itchy skin rashes, anaphylaxis


Last Updated
Allergies in Children (Copyright ? 1997 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 4/2013)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Follow Us