Girl suffering from allergies washes her dogWith the changing seasons, you may notice your child has a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, or dark circles under the eyes. These are all symptoms of seasonal allergies, which can be uncomfortable for a child to endure. Here are some ways to relieve or prevent those annoying symptoms and help your child feel better:

1. Identify triggers

Allergy relief lies in taking steps to remove dust mites, mold, animal dander, and pollens, which are all common allergens. The best prevention for allergy flare-ups is to avoid anything that triggers your child’s symptoms, or in other words, anything he’s allergic to. So try to be aware of what seems to cause the symptoms, and then reduce your child’s exposure to those triggers.

2. Look at the big picture

Walk through your house and see how many dust collectors you can find. Dust collectors are items such as curtains or heavy drapes, carpets, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals, pillows, etc. Once you identify them, minimize their dust-collecting properties. If they’re there to stay, vacuum or wash them in hot water on a regular basis.

3. Dust and vacuum often

Frequent dusting removes mites that can aggravate your child’s symptoms. Use a damp cloth to remove as many allergens as possible. After dusting, vacuum to pick up any remaining dust, food crumbs, and pet hairs. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to help remove airborne allergens. (Never vacuum with your child in the room, as vacuuming releases some dust particles into the air.)

4. Wash and repeat

Don’t use wool or feather comforters on the bed of an allergy-prone child. Cover the mattress, box spring, and pillows with zippered, dust-proof plastic covers. Also, wash sheets, blankets, and all bedding in hot water on a weekly basis.

5. Bathe the pets

If you have cats or dogs in the house, wash them often to remove surface allergens. Try to keep them off furniture and carpets, and keep them out of your child’s bedroom.

6. Keep a clean house

Simple, day-to-day things like dirty dishes, a full garbage can, or food crumbs can also contribute to your child’s allergies. Frequently washing the dishes, emptying the garbage, and cleaning up after snacks and meals might do more than keep your house clean.

Changing furnace and air conditioner filters several times a year is a quick and easy way to remove many potential allergens.

7. Lock ’em out

Keep the house windows closed, especially at night. If you take any long drives during allergy season, keep the car windows closed, too. Locking out any airborne pollen will help to relieve your child’s symptoms.

8. Don’t use a clothesline

During allergy seasons, do not hang clothes or linens outside to dry. Doing so allows them to collect allergens you won’t want to bring in the house. Use a clothes dryer instead.

9. Keep kids inside

Limit outdoor activities for your child when pollen counts are highest, especially between 5 and 10 am. After playing outdoors, have your child take a bath or shower and change his clothes.

10. Put away the toys

Some toys, such as stuffed animals, collect dust. Keep dust-collecting toys out of your child’s room. Try to provide toys that can be washed, and wash them often. If possible, store all the toys in a closed toy chest.

Follow these steps to reduce your child’s allergy symptoms. For more information, contact your child’s pediatrician or allergist to discuss allergy management.

Sarah Lindsey is a freelance writer and mom to two young children who both suffer terribly from allergies.