‘Tis the season of Christmas carols, sleigh-riding—and allergic reactions?

    Holiday decorations have begun to appear in homes and department stores everywhere, and so have children’s allergies from the many irritants brought on by the decorations.  Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky, a New York pediatrician and renowned children’s allergy expert with more than 20 years experience, offers ways for parents to protect their children from the most common holiday season allergens:

  • Leave the tree alone! Those with live Christmas trees or wreaths must urge their children not to fiddle with the pine needles.  Live conifers contain pollen, which can spread through the air when the tree is touched or moved.

  • Give the house a good dusting. Decorations and winter clothing that have been taken out of storage are ridden with dust.  Be sure to wash all clothes and clean all decorations properly before exposing your children to them.

  • Check out food contents.  Dining at someone else’s home for a holiday meal can be delicious, but if your child has a food allergy, make sure you find out if there are any “secret” ingredients in their recipes.

  • Be aware of visitors’ pets.  Whether welcoming guests into your home, or visiting someone else’s house, plan ahead for the pets your children might encounter.  Pet dander travels on clothing, so giving your child an allergy medicine before playing with another child with a pet should prevent a reaction to the dander. 

  • Crack a window.  The cold season gives us indoor dry air and closed windows—ideal conditions for leaving airborne allergens suspended in maximum concentration.  Make sure your home and especially your child’s room are properly ventilated to avoid trapping allergens in the air.

  • Think ahead. If you think your children will need your allergy medicines (antihistamines and nasal/inhaled steroids), start them BEFORE symptoms occur; they are more effective at preventing attacks than at stopping them, and they are safe enough that an extra week or two of use won't pose a hazard to your child.