Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever, are among the most common allergies in the United States. Hay fever results from an allergic reaction to pollen. Depending on the type of pollen your child is allergic to, he or she may only be affected at certain times of the year.
When is spring allergy season?
For many areas of the country, springtime allergies start in February and end in June, but the timing of spring allergy season varies by region:
- Areas with mild weather, such as the West, have a longer growing season, which means spring allergy season lasts longer with higher pollen counts
- Colder, wetter places may have a shorter allergy season and lower pollen counts
What causes spring allergies?
Allergies happen when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen, which causes an allergic reaction. So why do we get allergies in spring? There are more allergens when the weather warms up.
The main causes of spring allergy include:
- Tree pollen – Tree pollen is the first and most common spring pollen, including ash, birch, elm, pine, oak, pecan, hickory, poplar and walnut trees.
- Grass and weed pollen – Grass pollen peaks in June, and ragweed peaks in the fall.
- Mold – Both outdoor and indoor mold release spores that can cause allergy symptoms.
- Insect bites and stings – As the weather warms, bug bites and stings are more common, including mosquitoes, fleas, bees, hornets, ants and wasps.
- Dust mites – The feces from dust mites — which live in beds, carpets, furniture and curtains — can cause allergy symptoms, particularly during spring cleaning.
What are the symptoms of spring allergies?
Signs children have spring allergies include:
- Congestion or sinus pressure
- Runny nose or irritated nasal passages
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy or sore throat
- Swollen, bluish-colored skin beneath the eyes
- Reduced sense of taste or smell
Spring allergies may be just an annoyance for a child with mild symptoms. However, severe pollen allergies can affect kids' schoolwork and prevent him or her from playing outdoors. Symptoms of hay fever usually diminish as children age. The best way to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid the allergen, but at certain times of year, that may be difficult.
Kids’ allergy symptoms can be similar to cold symptoms. Find out how to tell the difference between a cold and allergies in kids.
Eight tips to help a child with spring allergies
Springtime allergies can stop your child from feeling their best. Try these tips to help your child feel better this spring allergy season.
- Keep your child indoors on dry, windy days.
- Don't ask your child to do yard work or other outdoor chores during peak spring allergy season.
- Remove and wash clothing your child has worn outside.
- Have your child shower or bathe after coming in from outside.
- Keep doors and windows closed when pollen counts are high (check your local weather) and use air conditioning to keep your car and home cool.
- Buy a portable high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA), dehumidifier, or both.
- Combat dust mites by vacuuming your home often (using a machine with a HEPA filter).
- See an allergist to get an accurate diagnosis and learn about allergy triggers and care.
These tips can help reduce children's seasonal allergies year-round. See an infographic for more tips to fight seasonal allergies.
What is the best spring allergy medicine?
Because spring allergies are common, there are many medications available to treat allergy symptoms. If high pollen counts are in the forecast, ask your physician if you should start giving your child allergy medications before symptoms begin. Medications to treat hay fever symptoms include:
- Antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Claritin
- Decongestants including Afrin and Sudafed
- Combination antihistamine and decongestant medications like Actifed or Claritin-D
Nasal irrigation with a squeeze bottle can help flush pollens from your child's nose as well. Eye drops may help ease eye irritation.
The allergy specialists at Children's Health℠ can help diagnose and treat seasonal allergies. Learn more about our Allergy program and services.