How Can I Tell If My Child Has Allergies?

Ruffled hair, dirty knees, cheeky grin and a runny nose. Simple words that conjure up an image of a young child, and where ever there is a child with a runny nose, there will be a mother or father one step behind holding a handkerchief.

Allergies show themselves in many ways and one of those ways is in the form of a runny nose.  It can be the first indication that your child may be sensitive to an allergen.  Other telltale indications include:

  • Showing symptoms of a cold for a prolonged period of time (one to two weeks)
  • Sneezing frenzies after consuming certain foods
  • A red rash on the cheeks, torso or back of the scalp
  • Dark skin under the eyes
  • Shortness of breath after any activity

If your child is afflicted by any of these warning signs it is advised to take him or her to your doctor for an allergy test.  This will probably be administered in one of two ways.

Prick Skin Test

This is the most common method as it is accurate and quick to do.  Tiny pin pricks are made to a child’s arm and samples of potential allergens are placed on them as drops.  A doctor will then observe the pin pricks and gauge how the child’s body reacts.  There is also a version of this test known as the intradermal skin test which follows the same methodology but injects the samples into the child’s flesh.

RAST (radioallergosorbent) Test

A RAST test involves taking a blood sample from a child and then exposing it to various allergens to see if there is any response.  The downside of the RAST test is that unlike the pin prick test it can take up to a week until you receive any results.  It is also considerably more expensive than the pin prick test.
As accurate as these allergy tests are it is possible that not all allergens will be detected.  Therefore vigilance and awareness of your child’s surroundings and their reaction to it may yield more answers than the test is capable of giving.