An allergy is an abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances such as pollens, foods, or micro-organisms. Common indications of allergy can include sneezing, itching, swelling, and skin rashes.
Fifteen to 20 percent of Americans have an allergy of one type or another (for example, food, animal, pollen), and most sufferers are diagnosed during childhood. Children whose family members have allergies are likely to have them, too, though the nature of the allergy in each case may be completely different. That is, if a mom is allergic to dogs, her child may be allergic to cats. In any case, if a parent has allergies, she needs to be aware that her child is also liable to have them. Of course, when a child has an allergy it is up to a parent to keep it under control.
If your two-year-old has an allergy and is going on a play date, notify the adult in charge. If her allergies are extensive or require special care, make sure a list of her allergies accompanies her. That way her caregivers will know how best to handle an emergency or which foods she should avoid.
Hay fever, an allergy to pollen from hay and grasses that usually occurs in spring and summer, is the most common allergy. It consists of an irritation of the mucus membranes, which are located in the nose, mouth, eyes, and nasal cavity. Hay fever symptoms include itchy and watery red eyes, sneezing, and runny nose. Because your two-year-old suffering from hay fever can't yet blow her runny nose to clear her head, mucus drips down her throat, causing her to cough. Children, like adults, can also be allergic to dust, airborne particles, and pet dander from animals in their immediate environment.
To help your two-year-old be more comfortable during allergy season, try to minimize her exposure to allergens. This might mean keeping her inside with air conditioning on sunny days or keeping her away from the family pet (if you're able to still keep a pet).
There are many good allergy medications available for young children that won't make them drowsy or cause negative side effects. If you think your two-year-old has allergies, take her to the doctor for diagnosis. You may need to try a few medications, including varying the dosage, to find what is most effective for your child. Work with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan.
There are a number of common rashes you might see on your two-year-old's skin. Most are not serious and are easily treated with over-the-counter cortisone and anti-itch cream. Even if the rash goes away quickly, however, it's important to determine its cause. Most likely it indicates an allergy of some kind whose recurrence you can prevent once you've identified the trigger.
Some rashes that usually show up as small red dots are caused by laundry products or other chemicals that might be on clothes. If you notice a rash on your child's back, chest, or arms, try changing detergents to one that is fragrance free. You might also switch soaps, shampoos, or other cleansers.
Warts are caused by a common virus. They are usually white with a small brown dot in the middle. Although these are contagious, they aren't dangerous. Don't use an over-the-counter wart medicine on your child without consulting your doctor.
Your child's skin becomes dry and chapped when it's cold and dry out or if her baths are too hot. You'll know if your two-year-old has dry skin because the skin appears white and cracked. You can protect her skin in a few ways. First, make sure bath water is warm, not hot. When your child gets out of the bath, put lotion on her quickly, before the water evaporates off her skin.
Small children also commonly suffer from eczema, psoriasis, heat rash, and impetigo. If your child's skin erupts in blisters filled with pus, is exceedingly red and very itchy, or if the rash is causing bleeding, take her to the doctor. It's difficult for you as a parent to diagnose these skin problems on your own. A physician will be able to determine the cause of the problem and recommend the proper course of treatment.
Food allergies, which are actually quite rare, often run in families. So if an adult in your family has an allergy to a food, you should be careful when you first give that food to your two-year-old. The most common foods that children are allergic to are milk, soy, egg, wheat, and nuts. If your child has a food allergy, the likelihood is that you learned about it when she was younger. Very few people are truly food-allergic for life. Most early food allergies actually go away as a child gets older. Some children have an intolerance for milk, which means they can't digest lactose. This also runs in families and is a lifelong condition, though it doesn't provoke an allergic reaction.