Allergy season — is there any other season?
As parents striving to use natural solutions, it can be so challenging to find the balance between avoiding over-medicating and keeping our little ones sniffle-free. Prescriptions aren’t many parents’ favorite way to manage, but you can’t watch your kids suffer and do nothing, so we do what we have to do to help them.
Symptoms of allergies can be wide and varied and really range in intensity from day to day, depending on your child’s immune system strength and level of exposure to allergens. Here are a few common symptoms:
- Puffy, watery eyes
- Sniffling and nasal congestion
- Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing
- Skin irritation in the form of red patches or hives
Identifying the cause of allergies, rather than just treating the symptoms, can provide you with some middle ground. A lot of times, there are more than just seasonal causes of allergies at work like pollinators and grass, and changing something in your child’s environment can make a huge impact on the severity of their symptoms.
Here are a few surprisingly common causes of allergies that, coupled with allergies to seasonal pollinators and the natural world, could be making your child’s allergies seem so much worse.
#1 — Personal Care Products
So many kids have allergies to common personal care products, many of which they don’t even wear themselves. The perfumes and preservatives in your makeup, lotions, and deodorant in such close proximity to your kids could be causing a myriad of symptoms like skin irritation, puffy, watery eyes, and chronic sniffles.
Try to use products that use natural fragrances (or better yet, no fragrances at all), and look for ingredient lists that are hopelessly simple.
For summertime sun protection, we like Raw Elements sunscreen for kids — an incredibly simple formula with zinc oxide (and not much of anything else) that’ll protect their skin without creating problems for allergy-prone kids.
#2 — Laundry Detergents and Cleaning Products
Cleaning products and laundry detergent can be equally to blame in the allergies category. So many artificial fragrances abound in these products that it can overwhelm olfactory systems and send kids into major respiratory distress. Air fresheners, ironically, are a major culprit, but surface cleaners are seldom better.
Additionally, using cleaners too heavily can have a negative impact on your and your child’s immune systems. Overuse can destroy healthy amounts of bacteria and lead to a domino effect, creating what’s known as autoimmune dysfunction. This can make your child more sensitive to fragrances (and just about anything else), in addition to weakening their immune system.
#3 — Bedding and Clothing
The younger the child, generally speaking, the more time they spend in bed. If what they’re sleeping against is contributing to their allergies, a simple change here can make a BIG difference.
In addition to the laundry products you use on your bedding, the materials themselves can have a huge impact on your child’s allergy symptoms. Many mattresses offgas because they’re made of petroleum-based products that require high levels of flame retardant chemicals to be safe to sleep in. The same goes for so much of our beddings — sheets, pillows, pillowcases.
Opt instead for natural mattresses and bedding that are free from flame retardant chemicals, and wherever possible, buy your kids organic clothes. As one of our own here at White Lotus Home discovered, changing what your child sleeps on can have a profound impact on their overall health. Read Elizabeth’s story here.
#4 — Food Allergies
Food allergies are crazy common and don’t always manifest themselves in the form of anaphylactic shock or other extreme reactions, but rather, continuous and relentless allergy symptoms. As many as six million kids in the United States suffer from food allergies, with the most common culprits being peanuts and milk. Other food allergies can include:
- Tree nuts
#5 — Indoor Air Pollutants
Perhaps one of the most common culprits of chronic allergy symptoms, yet one of the hardest to pinpoint and diagnose, indoor air pollution is pervasive and not talked about nearly enough.
The problem is most homes are built with materials that continuously offgas in some degree or another. Compound that problem with a house coated in synthetic paints, carpeted in polyester fibers soaked with flame retardant chemicals, and filled with petroleum-based products that offgas into a space circulating the same air over and over again, and you have a box full of indoor air pollutants you’re spending at least a third of your life inside.
The best solution to indoor air pollution is to use materials that will minimize off-gassing wherever possible, whether it’s your mattress or a zero VOC paint. More than anything though, opening your windows frequently is going to help to flush all of those allergens out and give your child’s immune system a break.
As you circulate that old air out of your home, bring in some air purifiers to keep what you let in cleaner. Air filters and purifiers are wonderful, but houseplants can make a tremendous difference as well and are a great way to naturally clean the air in your home.
Start With the Cause
There are some causes of allergies you can’t do much to avoid — grass, pollen, and dander are going to be present in some amount no matter where you go or what you do. We say focus on what you can change.
Stop the endless cycle of inhalers and antihistamines, and do whatever you can to help reduce the severity of your child’s allergy symptoms.
Does your child have allergies? What natural solutions have you found to help them cope?