Pediatric Respiratory and Immunology Center
Hasbro Children's Hospital

Nasal Allergies and Eye Allergies

What Are Nasal Allergies and Eye Allergies?

Some allergies trigger a runny nose or red, watery eyes. For example, seasonal allergies generally are triggered by sensitivity to airborne mold spores or to pollens from trees (starting at end of March/beginning of April) and grasses (heaviest in May and June through July) or weeds (most potent at end of summer through fall). Ragweed often is the culprit in autumn. Other triggers are dust mites; cockroach saliva, feces, and body parts; and pet dander — particles of skin shed by animals with fur or feathers.

Child rubbing their eye

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Nasal Allergies and Eye Allergies?

A runny, stuffy nose, sneezing, and post-nasal drip are symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Additionally, eyes become watery, reddened, and itchy.

How Are Nasal Allergies and Eye Allergies Diagnosed?

A skin scratch test, a simple procedure in the allergist’s office, is used to confirm seasonal allergies and identify the specific triggers. The skin is exposed to an allergen through a tiny puncture or scratch. The area is observed for a reaction, such as a small hive (raised, reddened, itchy blotch). The test can confirm whether the patient reacts to something they breathe, touch, or eat. Alternatively, a blood test maybe performed.

Hay fever, eczema, and allergic asthma are among the conditions skin prick tests are used to diagnose.

What Treatment is Available for Nasal Allergies and Eye Allergies?

Several forms of treatment are available:

  • Antihistamines calm hay fever, while decongestants and nasal steroids are used to treat stuffiness in the nose and other symptoms linked to allergies.
  • Nonprescription decongestant nasal sprays work speedily and last for hours, but you should not let your child use them for more than a few days unless advised to by your allergist. Prolonged use can cause “rebound” swelling of the nasal tissue.
  • Saline spray will help counteract symptoms such as dry nasal passages or thick nasal mucus and can be used as often as needed.
  • Allergy eye drops can relieve itchy eyes.

What Can I Do About My Child’s Nasal Allergies or Eye Allergies?

Completely eliminating allergy triggers is impossible, but here are some tips to help limit your child’s exposure:

  • Use vacuums and air conditioners with a High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove particles of pollen, dust mites, or pet dander from your home.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed, especially at night.
  • Limit outdoor time when pollen counts are at their peak, or when breezes are blowing pollen around.
  • Avoid drying laundry outside. You may like the freshness imparted by the breeze and sun, but if your child is allergic, it’s a bad idea, since that breeze can carry pollen and mold spores and deposit them on your clean laundry.

Learn about treatment at Lifespan for more pediatric asthma and allergy conditions