Allergy medicines can and do play an important role in managing and relieving child allergies; sometimes, however, it is prudent to limit the use of medicines in children. Other times, parents and caregivers of children with allergies need additional tools for the relief of allergy symptoms, and so complementary methods of relieving child allergies without medications can prove very beneficial.
Depending on the type and cause of allergies, and the allergy symptoms which are causing discomfort for the child, there are a number of natural and alternative methods for relieving child allergies.
Alternatives For Relieving Child Allergies—Seasonal Allergies
With seasonal allergies, the most troubling symptoms are related to the sinuses and the lungs. Mucus build-up and congestion cause secondary sinus and ear infections and are the major source of discomfort from seasonal allergies, causing sinus pain, runny and/or stuffy nose, itchiness in the eyes and nose, headache, and difficulty breathing. Often, if the congestion can be broken up, symptoms will be alleviated to a more tolerable level and reliance on medications can be reduced or eliminated.
The following are some useful alternative methods for breaking up sinus and chest congestion and easing the discomfort of seasonal child allergies.
• Humidification—adding humidity to household air eases breathing and moisturizes mucus and nasal passages, helping the child breathe easier and clear out congestion naturally. Humidification is most beneficial during dry seasons and placing a humidifier in a child’s bedroom can make a very big difference. However, excess household moisture creates a breeding ground for molds, which are also common allergens; household humidity should not exceed 40%.
• Warm bath—a soothing warm bath can ease both discomfort and achy muscles (sometimes caused by excessive coughing and sneezing) and also provides humidity to clear congestion and mucus.
• Hydration—keeping the child well-hydrated ensures the body has enough water stores to thin and clear mucus. Water also helps to flush allergens from the child’s system.
• Nasal irrigation—there are a few ways to perform nasal irrigation on children. Nasal irrigation consists of using a saline (salt water) solution to thin and clear mucus and congestion in the nose; saline rinses also help to reduce nasal inflammation, which opens blockages caused by swelling. Since it is difficult to perform a true nasal irrigation on a young child without them inhaling the water, nasal saline sprays, saline drops, or droppering the solution with a bulb-syringe is usually best.
• Warm and cold compresses—compresses (as simple as a moist, warm or cold facecloth over the affected area) are useful for relieving child allergies and sinus symptoms. Warm compresses can help break-down congestion and ease pain and pressure, and cold compresses can reduce inflammation.
• Mints and inhalants—mints and lozenges and inhalants like steeping eucalyptus can clear sinuses and relieve congestion from child allergies. Of course, it is imperative that care be taken any time a child is near hot water; boiling the eucalyptus and letting the scent fill the room is effective enough and much safer.
• Raising head of bed—raising the head of the child when sleeping (by propping up the mattress or using several pillows) helps prevent post-nasal drip, promotes drainage and makes resting easier.
Alternatives For Relieving Child Allergies—Skin Allergies
Skin allergy relief is generally a matter of easing skin damage, pain, and discomfort.
• Washing—as soon as a child comes into contact with a known skin allergen, the area should be thoroughly washed to minimize the reaction.
• Compresses—again, warm or cold compresses applied to the affected area can relieve pain and reduce inflammation (warm for pain, cold for swelling)
• Warm baths—a warm bath also reduces skin discomfort, but care must be taken that the water is not too hot and does not cause further drying and skin damage. A bath with oatmeal in it is very effective at repairing the skin and relieving itching associated with skin allergies.
• Lotions and creams to moisturize—skin allergies that result in excessive dryness (such as eczema) benefit from the application of moisturizing creams and lotions which help repair the skin. Lotions should not contain high levels of water which have the effect of drying the skin.
• Lotions and creams to dry—relieving child allergies with skin rashes sometimes requires drying of allergic blisters (such as from poison ivy); lotions such as calamine are effective at drying blistering allergic skin rashes.
• Hydration—again, hydration helps to flush the system of allergens and also helps to moisturize and repair the skin.
Alternatives For Relieving Child Allergies—Food Allergies
Unfortunately, there is not much to be done naturally when it comes to relieving child allergies to food except for avoidance of the trigger; avoiding allergenic foods is the most effective way to manage food allergies in children safely. However, if child food allergies cause skin rashes or congestion, the above steps can be helpful at relieving those symptoms associated with the food allergy. As always, hydration is an important factor in flushing offensive food allergens from the body.
In addition to those methods mentioned here, there are a number of herbal and homeopathic remedies that are showing promise in the relief of allergies, but many are not well-studied for safety. Such methods and products may prove helpful in relieving child allergies, but they should be discussed with the child’s doctor prior to use.