Is your child’s skin itchy and red at times? Does he suffer from rashes, patches or blisters? Well, it could be a case of skin allergy. Here is what you should know.
By Deepthi Balasunder
“It was just another Wednesday evening. Our son Neeraj asked my husband for some yogurt. But after slurping a few spoonfuls, he started feeling uneasy. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong. Also, within a couple of minutes, Neeraj started developing skin rashes. Alarmed, we quickly rushed him to the doctor who diagnosed the condition as a case of milk allergy.” - Meera, mother of four-year-old Neeraj.
A skin allergy occurs when a child comes into contact with certain substances or consumes a food item that he is allergic to. The child’s body automatically reacts to the substance and rashes or hives appear on his skin. This happens because the allergen that the child is exposed to triggers an immune system response, leading to allergic reactions. Little bumps on the skin, redness, rashes, itching and swelling are common symptoms of most skin allergies. These can be irritating and painful for your child.
So, to find out more about skin allergies, ParentCircle reached out to Dr Rashmi Shetty, Dermatologist, Mumbai, who sheds some light on this topic. Let’s hear what she has to say in this exclusive interview:
Do skin allergies begin at birth?
Skin allergies, in children, can start at any point of time in their life. It is possible that a child may not have experienced a skin allergy for the first three years of his life, and then suddenly one day he can develop an allergy to something. For some children, it may start when they are a couple of months old. It differs from child to child.
What are the common skin allergies that affect children?
Some of the common skin allergies that I come across include allergic reactions to a plant called parthenium and to food substances such as milk and dairy products, nuts and tomatoes. Peanut allergy is a common condition which triggers allergic skin reactions. Another common allergy is insect bite allergy – mosquitoes in particular.
Are there any ways parents can prevent these allergies?
If a child has a skin allergy and comes into contact with the substance she is allergic to, nothing can be done to prevent it. However, as parents, what you can do is avoid exposing your kids to those items. For instance, if your child is allergic to mosquito bites, ensure you use mosquito repellents or nets to protect your child. You can prevent bites but not the allergy. In the case of milk allergy, ensure your child does not drink milk or eat dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and butter.
But, how will they know what their child is allergic to?
Today, there are blood tests available to determine if your child is allergic to any substance. It is a simple test and all you have to do is give a blood sample (if you suspect an allergy) and the lab will analyse and tell what your child could be allergic to. Any child of any age can take this allergy test. However, a newborn infant may not have allergies. It takes time for an allergy to develop in a child. For instance, the first time your baby nibbles on cheese, it may not trigger an allergic reaction; but it may occur later in life. It takes time.
Any tips for parents of children who suffer from skin allergies?
If your child has a skin allergy, first find out the root cause. For this, you can maintain a food diary and note down when the allergy occurs and what your child has eaten around that time. This makes it easy for your doctor to track and ascertain the cause of allergies. Sometimes children have skin allergies from swimming in a public pool or exposure to bird poop when playing outside. So, if you suspect an allergy, maintain a diary that tracks your child’s lifestyle and habits as well. You can then see your doctor and discuss your observations. Follow his instructions and carry out the tests that he advises. Skin allergies can only be treated medically and can be prevented by avoiding the allergic substance.
Can allergies be treated or are they lifelong conditions?
There are chances of skin allergies reducing with time or fully going away, with the help of medical treatment. Your doctor may initiate a desensitisation treatment process wherein he introduces your child to the allergens on purpose little by little. This will help your child to become desensitised to it over a period. Do note that there is no treatment that can be done at home. Medical intervention is a must.
How long do allergies last?
No doctor can positively address this question, as it varies from child to child and is based on several factors. Get your doctor’s advice based on your child’s individual condition.
That was quite insightful, wasn’t it? So, be aware and take the right measures to address your child’s skin allergies.
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