Dust mites, pet and ani­mal dan­der, pollen, and insect stings are all envi­ron­men­tal aller­gens that fre­quent ear­ly child­hood pro­grams. So, how can we reduce children’s expo­sure to envi­ron­men­tal aller­gies in child care? 

Since many chil­dren expe­ri­ence their first aller­gic reac­tion in a child care or school set­ting, it is crit­i­cal that we under­stand what to look for and how to pre­vent aller­gic reac­tions from hap­pen­ing. In today’s high­light, we dis­cuss four of the top envi­ron­men­tal aller­gens in child care. Tak­en from our course, Under­stand­ing and Man­ag­ing Aller­gies in Child Care, these tips will help you min­i­mize children’s expo­sure to envi­ron­men­tal allergens. 

Top Environmental Allergens in Child Care:

1. Dust Mites

These are micro­scop­ic bugs who thrive in warm, humid envi­ron­ments, such as in bed­ding, car­pet­ing, and fur­ni­ture. Pre­vent dust mite expo­sure by clean­ing your car­pets reg­u­lar­ly. Use clean­ing prod­ucts that remove aller­gens. You’ll want to avoid any unnec­es­sary chem­i­cals and fra­grances. Your state’s reg­u­la­tions can help you find aller­gen-safe clean­ing products.

2. Pet Hair and Dander

Fur and dan­der can be brought into the facil­i­ty by chil­dren who have pets at home. The more chil­dren in your care who have a dog, cat, or oth­er ani­mal, the more like­ly you’ll have a case of pet-relat­ed aller­gen expo­sure. Fur and dan­der float in the air and accu­mu­late on the car­pet, uphol­stered fur­ni­ture, and even on human hair! Invest in air puri­fiers and HEPA/high-effi­cien­cy vac­u­um clean­ers. They’ll get those pesky aller­gens out of your air and car­pet­ing. Fre­quent­ly mop­ping and laun­der­ing will also help to min­i­mize this expo­sure risk.

3. Plant, Tree, and Grass Pollen

Out­door play is essen­tial to chil­dren, allow­ing them to be cre­ative, social, and phys­i­cal­ly active, but it makes run­ning into pollen unavoid­able. This is espe­cial­ly true dur­ing pollen sea­sons when pollen den­si­ty is high­est. These sea­sons vary with plant type and almost cov­er the whole year, with tree pollen sea­son last­ing from March to May, grass pollen sea­son last­ing from May to July, and rag­weed sea­son last­ing from August to ear­ly win­ter. Tree pollen is espe­cial­ly trou­ble­some since it is made up of fin­er par­ti­cles than grass and plant pol­lens. The wind can blow it across miles, spread­ing it through the air.

Although you can’t con­trol the out­doors, you can pre­pare treat­ment plans for children’s aller­gic reac­tions. You might admin­is­ter anti­his­t­a­mines, decon­ges­tants, and nasal sprays to relieve them. Always fol­low your state reg­u­la­tions when admin­is­ter­ing medications.

You can also min­i­mize expo­sure by research­ing the plants in your com­mu­ni­ty and the time of day when their pol­lens are most active. Sched­ule out­door play around these times. Mon­i­tor your community’s pollen counts by vis­it­ing the Nation­al Aller­gy Bureau’s sta­tis­tics web­site.

4. Bee and Other Insect Stings

While play­ing among the flow­ers and grass, chil­dren may encounter bees and insects. Instruct chil­dren to be cau­tious around these areas. Bee and insect stingers can inject ven­om into the children’s skin, caus­ing an aller­gic reac­tion. For some high­ly sen­si­tive chil­dren, ana­phy­lax­is may occur. Approx­i­mate­ly every 4 in 1,000 chil­dren react severe­ly to bee stings. If a child breaks out in hives after a sting, be ready to admin­is­ter the right med­ica­tions. Have a staff mem­ber on hand who is approved to admin­is­ter epi­neph­rine to pre­vent anaphylaxis.

Allergy Confidentiality

It is impor­tant to main­tain the con­fi­den­tial­i­ty of chil­dren in your care who have aller­gies. How­ev­er, some states require that infor­ma­tion regard­ing children’s aller­gies be post­ed in child care facil­i­ties. Many states require that cer­tain details of children’s aller­gies be promi­nent­ly post­ed in child care cen­ters where employ­ees, par­ents, and oth­ers may eas­i­ly view them. You must be famil­iar with and fol­low your state’s rules regard­ing the post­ing of any aller­gy-relat­ed infor­ma­tion. With­in the lim­its of such rules, respect children’s and fam­i­lies’ pri­va­cy. One way to do this is to post children’s aller­gy infor­ma­tion with a cov­er sheet on top, so that it is read­i­ly avail­able with­out being vis­i­ble to peo­ple walk­ing by. These lists should be post­ed wher­ev­er chil­dren go dur­ing the day, includ­ing class­rooms, vehi­cles, and play­grounds. Addi­tion­al­ly, place them in staff rooms, first aid kits, and field trip materials.

Take Understanding and Managing Allergies in Child Care to learn more!

After tak­ing this course, you will know how to be pre­pared for both food and non-food aller­gies, iden­ti­fy the symp­toms of both mild and severe aller­gic reac­tions in a child, avoid and min­i­mize expo­sure, and respond appro­pri­ate­ly to a child’s severe aller­gic reaction. 

Want to learn more about out­door safe­ty? Read our blog on the top five mis­con­cep­tions about sun safe­ty!

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Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: info@CareCourses.com. We’re here to help!

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