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Allergies In Children: Symptoms & Triggers

Allergies in Children

When you suspect that your child may have allergies, it could be a little worrisome.

Maybe your daughter has developed an itchy rash or hives, or maybe your son’s having digestive problems like abdominal pain, gas, or vomiting. Or maybe they have a constantly runny nose or non-stop wheezing and sneezing. You don’t know what’s causing their symptoms, but you know seeing them so miserable makes you miserable, too.

It’s easy to see how allergy symptoms in children can make life difficult for them: feeling left out of at the lunch table, staying indoors on beautiful, but pollen-heavy days, or having to skip cake at birthday parties. So, children with allergies will need support from their caregivers, family and friends who understand and respect their limitations.

And being the parent of a child with allergies can be especially challenging. It can mean saying “no” to restaurants, “no” to getting a dog, “no” to having a playdate at a new friend’s house.

Allergies in children infographic


Common allergy symptoms in children include:1

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny  nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Skin rashes or hives (eczema)
  • Difficulty breathing 


Common allergy triggers in children include:1 

  • Pollens
  • Insect bites or stings
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Foods (peanuts, eggs, milk, and milk products)

Common Childhood Allergies


Food allergy icon | allergy symptoms in children

Food Allergies in Children

A child with a properly diagnosed food allergy may accidentally be exposed to foods they're allergic to throughout the day. Trying to protect your children when they’re at home is one thing, but protecting them when they are out in the world is another.

Approximately 4% of school-aged children are estimated to have food allergies2 and 16-18% of food allergic kids have had a reaction at school.3,4 And food is one of the most common causes of anaphylaxis, a rapidly developing lifethreatening allergic reaction, accounting for up to 81% of cases in children.5,6

Learn more >


Eczema icon | allergy symptoms in children

Kids and Eczema

When a child has allergic eczema, their skin is extremely sensitive, and extremely itchy. The itching can sometimes be so bad that they’ll want to scratch constantly, even in their sleep. In fact, kids with eczema—and their parents—can lose up to 2 hours of sleep a night.7

The best way to manage your child’s eczema is to know their symptoms and triggers so that you can help keep it under control.

Learn more >


Ear infection icon | allergy symptoms in children

Ear Infections in Children

One of most common medical problems children face is middle ear infection, also called otitis media. Allergies may play role in ear infections, as allergic inflammation can cause swelling and congestion in the ear canal (Eustachian tube).

Diagnosing and treating allergies may be an important part of keeping your child’s ears healthy.

Learn more >


Questions to help guide the conversation with your healthcare professional

When you take your child in for their appointment, be prepared to answer a lot of questions about the symptoms you’ve noticed and when, what treatments you have tried and your family’s history of allergies.

Keep in mind that this isn’t just your healthcare professional’s chance to ask questions, it’s yours, too. And there are so many things to understand, it can be easy to forget the important questions you have when you’re actually there.

Frequently Asked Questions Icon

Use this list of questions to help get the answers you need about your child's allergies.



Allergy Testing For Kids

Testing may sound scary to children (and their parents, too), but there are more options now than ever before. Knowing what to expect with different tests or allergic triggers—and being able to help prepare your son or daughter—can help calm you both.

There are two main kinds of tests, which help your healthcare professional in the diagnosis of allergy. A blood test or skin prick test can be used, along with your child’s symptoms and medical history, and they each have their pros and cons.

Blood test

For a blood test, a sample is drawn and sent to a laboratory for analysis. It can test for hundreds of allergens, including pollens, venoms, food, medications, and more. With a single tube of blood, your healthcare professional can choose what tests to order based on a number of factors and a physical exam. Advantages are that there’s no worry about triggering a potentially life-threatening reaction, and the test results are not affected by being on anti-histamines.

Skin prick test (SPT)

A skin prick test involves scratching or pricking the skin with a very thin needle (lancet) and introducing a tiny amount of the suspected allergen into the skin. To test for multiple allergens, it will involve multiple skin pricks. The test can often be done in one visit, and the results appear within 15 to 20 minutes. There is a small risk of a severe, immediate allergic reaction, so it's important for the test to be administered by your healthcare professional. To prepare for a skin prick test, you may need to stop taking antihistamines a week in advance. Another thing to consider: SPT results cannot be trusted when administered during pregnancy due to hormonal effects. 

  1. https://acaai.org/allergies/who-has-alllergies/children-allergies. Accessed May, 2019.
  2. Branum AM, Lukacs SL. Food allergy among U.S. children: trends in prevalence and hospitalizations. NCHS Data Brief. 2008;10:1-8.
  3. Nowak-Wegrzyn A, Conover-Walker MK, Wood RA. Food-allergic reactions in schools and preschools. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001; 155(7):790-795.\
  4. Sicherer SH, Furlong TJ, DeSimone J, Sampson HA. The US peanut and tree nut allergy registry: characteristics of reactions in schools and day care. J Pediatr. 2011; 138(4): 560-565.
  5. Cianferoni A, Muraro A. Food-Induced Anaphalaxis. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2012;165-195.
  6. Wang J, Sampson HA. Food anaphylaxis. Clin Exp Allergy. 2007; 37(5):651-60.
  7. Reid P, et al. Clin Exp Dermatol. 1995;20:38-41.