Think your child has allergies? Here are 6 signs to watch for.

Thanks to our brand partner, Zyrtec

In the hazy crazy early days of parenthood, each little sniffle can feel like cause for alarm. Then the daycare bugs come marching one-by-one, the primary school lurgies come two-by-two and you eventually learn to stop flinching each time your kiddo brings home a new friend (the contiguous kind). 

Then the doubt creeps in. Am I missing something? Do all kids sneeze this much? Is he just tired from school, or could it be something else?

The reality is, parenthood is one giant guessing game, but when it comes to childhood allergies, there are certain signs your little one might be affected, and some of them may surprise you. 

I was such an allergic little thing as a kid. From asthma to eczema to the seasonal sneezies – I had it all, but it didn’t stop me from running amuck.  

Is it allergies or cold and flu? How to spot the difference.

For kids who are allergy prone, it's that their little bodies are mistaking pollen for a foreign invader like a bug or germ, causing their immune system to kick into gear, as if it would when fighting a bug. 

This triggers the release of chemicals known as histamines, which can cause inflammation, itchiness in the eyes, nose, and throat, and frequent attempts at flushing the system of pollens (a big sneeze!).

My little one often comes inside after a big day outdoors grinning wide with a nose like a tap, and I wonder if it’s allergies or the start of a new cold.

While each trigger is different, the response in a child with allergies will fundamentally be the same. Soon after exposure to a trigger, your little one may begin to sneeze repeatedly, feel itchiness in the nose and start to develop red, watery eyes – poor little poppets. This rapid onset of symptoms after exposure is one of the biggest differences between allergies and a virus. 


Another sign is the difference in the kind of runny nose (gross I know, but important). With allergies, the release of histamine causes immediate irritation and swelling in the nose and throat triggering a thin fluid secreted by small blood vessels in their nasal passages. So allergy congestion is more watery than the thick, yellow or green gloop you might get with a virus or infection. 

Allergy symptoms can cause fatigue or sleep disturbance, so you might notice your child struggling to stay awake during the day. Often viruses will bring body aches and headaches which are typically not allergy symptoms. 

What are the main allergy triggers?

Outdoor triggers: tree and grass pollens

We’re a leafy country here, so naturally, pollen is all around us in the air we breathe, especially during pollination seasons. According to Health Direct, this is considered to be loosely around October  to November in Melbourne and Hobart, in the spring and summer months in Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra, with places like Perth, Brisbane and Darwin having higher pollen levels for most of the year (the joy!).

Grass pollens are highest towards the end of spring and towards the start of summer, and tree pollen is highest toward the end of winter and the start of spring – I know, it doesn’t leave much in between. 

Indoor triggers: pets, dust and moulds

There are three main categories of allergens our little ones are exposed to in the home, which are pet dander, dust, and moulds. We Aussies love our furry friends boasting the highest rates of pet ownership in the world (reportedly over 63 per cent), but their dander can be a trigger for kids with allergies. Dander is a protein found in dead skin cells they shed as well as in their saliva (and we all know how much those guys love to slobber).


How can we help kids’ allergies?

The best support is a kind of one-two-punch approach, combining fast-acting relief along with ways to minimise exposure to triggers.

To help relieve:

Since we don’t want to deprive our little adventurers of time in the great outdoors (or rolling on the lounge room floor with the dog), the easiest thing to help is give them something to inhibit their oversensitive immune response, also known as antihistamines. 

Zyrtec has a new fast-acting Kids' range that can offer 12-hour relief, to help get your kiddo back to being themselves and into the yard without a whole box of tissues in tow. They come in chewable (grape flavour) and liquid form (both grape and bubblegum flavours), without any unwanted extras like sucrose, gluten or dyes. There’s a super handy measuring cup included with the liquid range to eliminate any confusion with dosage, and the chewables are a handy option for little ones who are ready to transition from liquid meds to solids. 

To help minimise:

Become an allergy sleuth and keep note of when your little one’s symptoms are at their worst. Note down what they have been doing and where, and eventually you can deduce which allergens are the biggest triggers for them.

Here are some effective ways to minimise exposure to triggers:

  1. Pollens are very easily transported, so changing clothes and showering between indoor and outdoor play can help. It’s also good to keep grass cut very short and to keep pets brushed and groomed before they come inside. Then of course there’s weeds! They’re the worst. Most especially because they’re little pollen-making machines. Keep your garden as weed-free as you can to reduce the amount of pollen in your immediate environment. 

  2. Use a HEPA air filter in your home and choose a vacuum equipped with one to clear the home of pet dander, dust, and pollen. Choose hypoallergenic bedding and soft furnishings that are easily washable and where possible opt for hard floors over carpet. 

  3. The challenge with tree pollen is it can be carried vast distances by the wind, so depending on which way the wind is blowing you could be copping pollens from trees on the other side of town in your own backyard. Pollen levels generally peak between 10am and 4pm so if you can, keep your little ones outside play scheduled for first thing and late arvo. This is also ideal to avoid the blazing heat. Win-win.

  4. Keep windows and doors closed during peak pollen times and especially on windy days. And get your little ones into a bath, shower for the pool and wash their hair, and outdoor clothes which can reduce the amount of pollen being brought inside.

  5. Brush your pets before they come inside and keep pets out of kids’ bedrooms. We love our little fur balls, but they can be the perfect pollen-transportation system if left unchecked. It also helps to keep pets off the furniture and out of bedrooms.

  6. Reduce mould build-up with a dehumidifier, and keep windows open during showers and baths to let the steamy air out and avoid moisture sitting in the bathroom.

  7. The fewer surfaces available for dust to settle on, the better so reduce clutter and avoid horizontal blinds that can gather dust particles and pollen.

Find Zyrtec's Kids range online or in-store at your nearest pharmacy.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

Feature Image: Getty.

Zyrtec Kids provides Fast Acting Allergy Relief for your little ones, to help them get back to themselves fast. Specially made for Kids, the range includes Chewables in grape and Liquids in grape & NEW bubblegum flavour. They’re also sucrose, gluten and dye free! Zyrtec Kids provides long lasting 12 hours of relief from Hayfever & Allergy Symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, post nasal drip, watery & itchy eyes and hives & itchy skin rash. It’s effective against seasonal allergens such as grass, tree and weed pollen AND all year around allergens like dust, pet dander and mould.