Allergy medicine for kids

Allergy medicine for kids includes the drops this girl is being given to soothe her eyes – she’s tipping her head back to help

Does your little one have allergies? Maybe their symptoms stop them from doing fun activies with other kids. School can be tough too with a stuffy nose and not enough sleep. But children don’t need to grin and bear it. Find the right allergy medicine for kids and you can help your daughter or son their fight back against the allergy sniffles and other symptoms too.

Allergy medicine for kids: Where do I start?

The first thing to know is that you don’t have to be super-mom or dad and find the perfect medicine by yourself. Talk to your healthcare provider about allergy medicine for kids. The best type for your child might be available over-the-counter or with a prescription. Perhaps there are reasons to avoid a certain allergy medicine for kids. Your child may have another condition or take medication already. A lot will depend on their age, symptoms and medical history, and on the results of allergy testing.

Is there special allergy medicine for kids?

Allergy tends to run in the family. Parents of kids with allergies often have symptom-relieving medicine in the house. Allergic moms and dads know what works for them and it can be tempting to try the same treatment with their allergic kids. We want so much to make them feel better. But giving an adult dose of medication to a child can cause more severe side effects.

The way to help them is with the right dose of allergy medicine for kids. It’s often the same type of drug. But the dose is likely to be lower and the instructions and other information will be specific to children. Your healthcare provider can offer advice.

Allergy medicine for kids that isn’t medicine

There’s a simple remedy you can get at the pharmacy that’s drug-free; saline solution. Maybe you already use a saline nasal spray when your child gets a cold and has a blocked nose. It helps loosen and thin mucus and is even suitable for babies.

Kids can get hay
fever too

Boy reading a book on his mother’s knee – they’re under a tree which could be challenging if he had pollen allergies

Another reason to try a saline spray for nasal congestion is it seems to make topical allergy medicines work better. And it may mean less need for antihistamine, a common symptom-reliever. Your child may be anxious about the spray at first so tell them exactly what’s going to happen.

Artificial tears are saline eyedrops and can soothe watery eyes. Younger children may be even less keen about eyedrops than nasal sprays. A bribe can help. Lean your child back and ask them to look up. Gently hold their top eyelid open and pinch the lower one to make a little pocket to catch the saline.

Topical allergy medicine for kids

Your child could have seasonal allergies to pollen or mold. Or indoor allergies to pet dander, dust mites, mold (again) or something else entirely. Symptom-relieving meds tackle what’s going on inside them when they react to their trigger. If it’s mainly one part of their body that’s affected, then topical allergy medicine for kids could be the right choice. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory.

Antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers block the histamine causing lots of their symptoms.

Some medications are approved for babies and toddlers. Others only from a certain age. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist and always read the information leaflet very carefully.

1. Allergy medications for a blocked, stuffy or itchy nose

There are corticosteroid nasal sprays and antihistamine nasal sprays for kids. You can also get the two medications combined. And mast cell stabilizers also come in a nasal spray. Children can use decongestants but, like grown-ups, not for more than a few days.

2. Allergy relief for teary red eyes

There are different options here too. Children can use antihistamine or mast cell stabilizer eye drops. There are also drops combining the two treatments. You may need to treat your child’s eyes several times a day.

Find a doctor
Find a doctor
Ready to talk to someone about your allergy medicine? We can help you find a doctor nearby.

3. Allergy medications for sore itchy skin

Corticosteroid creams, gels, ointments and lotions are common treatments to soothe atopic dermatitis (eczema) and insect stings. They calm inflammation and itching and range from mild to “super-potent”. There are non-steroid creams for treating children’s eczema too now. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about it.

4. Allergy medication for lower respiratory symptoms

Breathing in tiny environmental allergens can make children wheeze and cough. They may get short of breath and feel as if their chest is tight. Corticosteroid inhalers are a common treatment for kids.

Oral allergy medicine for kids

Oral antihistamines can help with sneezing, coughing, a runny nose and other signs of hay fever in allergy season. They can also calm insect stings and hives, as well as help with mild reactions to food. Depending how old your child is, they may be able to have capsules, tablets (some of them chewable), liquid or syrup. Most take an hour or so to work. Ask your healthcare provider about oral antihistamines if topical allergy medicine for kids isn’t working. Or if your child has a wider range of allergy symptoms. They sometimes prescribe them for children as young as one.

Leukotriene receptor antagonists counteract another chemical the body releases as a part of an allergic reaction. They’re available with a prescription and may be a back-up to your child’s corticosteroid inhaler if they’re struggling with lower respiratory symptoms. Leukotriene receptor antagonists can help with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) too. Babies can have the granules from six months old. There are tablets for older children.

Food container clearly labelled Benjamin on a separate shelf in the fridge – one way to help keep kids with allergies safe

Separate shelves:
Life with food allergy

Any downsides to oral allergy medicine for kids?

Oral allergy medicine for kids may cause side effects, like most medications including the topical types above. The information leaflet will give you a full list. Older antihistamines can make children feel sleepy (although less so than grown-ups). This could be useful if allergy symptoms are keeping them – and you – awake at night. Newer antihistamines (second generation) are less likely to cause drowsiness. Both could give your child nightmares. Meanwhile corticosteroid tablets can cause growth problems in children if taken for a long time.

See professional medical advice if you have any questions or concerns.

Medicine for severe allergy symptoms in kids

Some allergies may put a child at greater risk of anaphylaxis which is a severe reaction. These include certain foods, insect venom and latex (for instance in balloons, art supplies or sneakers). Allergies to antibiotics and other medicines can cause serious symptoms too.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector in case your child comes into contact with their trigger by accident.

Epinephrine is another word for adrenaline. It can stop a severe allergic reaction from becoming life-threatening. But you should always call an ambulance too and get medical help.

The recommendation is to carry two autoinjectors at all times. Schools in most US states also hold spares for emergencies.

Managing allergy medicine for kids at school

Starting school can be an even bigger step than usual for children with allergies. And for parents. It means trusting someone else to care for your child and to help them manage their allergy symptoms.


Starting school can be an even bigger step than usual for children with allergies. And for parents. It means trusting someone else to help your child manage their symptoms

The preparation starts well before their first day. If the school doesn’t ask about allergies – and they may well do – get in touch to explain about their allergy triggers. Share your child’s treatment or management plan if you have one. And find out how the school manages allergy medicine for kids, particularly epinephrine auto-injectors. Make sure your child’s teachers know how to use one in case of a severe reaction. Part of getting your little one ready will be making sure they know how to get help quickly too.

Putting kids in charge of their allergy medications

We want to help our kids with severe allergies become happily independent. That means teaching them to be responsible for their own allergy medicine. When they’re old enough and the time is right. Every child is different and this is something to discuss with your healthcare provider.

First children need to understand anaphylaxis and what the symptoms might feel like. Pediatric allergists suggest children should know why they might need an epinephrine auto-injector and how it works by the age of 9 to 11. From 12 to 14 they could be carrying their own epinephrine. Training auto-injectors can help prepare children.

Starting school can be an even bigger step than usual for children with allergies. And for parents. It means trusting someone else to care for your child and to help them manage their allergy symptoms.

Long-term allergy medicine for kids

There isn’t a cure for your child’s allergy yet but it may be possible to reduce their symptoms and the need for allergy medicine for kids. Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that involves repeated tiny doses of the allergen, either as allergy shots (injections) or tablets that dissolve under the tongue. It depends on the allergy and the child’s age. The full course of treatment takes three to five years and the goal is gradually to desensitize the immune system.

Immunotherapy is only available for children for some triggers. It’s not usually given to kids under the age of five. They need to be old enough to describe clearly any adverse reaction to the treatment.

If you’d like to talk to an expert to see if it’s the best course, try our Find a Doctor tool.

We’re here for you

If you’ve read all the way to the end of this article about allergy medicine for kids, thank you. We’d love to know what you think. If you have any questions or would like to share your story of finding effective treatments, you can email us or visit our Facebook page or Instagram.

klarify takes allergy science and makes it simple, and we have rigorous process for doing this. We use up-to-date and authoritative sources of information. Medical experts review our content before we share it with you. They and the klarify editorial team strive to be accurate, thorough, clear and objective at all times. Our editorial policy explains exactly how we do this.