First Aid

Allergic reactions can be triggered by foods, medicines, pets, insect stings, pollen, and other things. Most allergic reactions aren't serious. But severe reactions can be life-threatening and need immediate medical care.

Signs and Symptoms

Mild:

  • itching
  • skin redness
  • slight swelling
  • stuffy, runny nose
  • sneezing
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • red bumps (hives) anywhere on the body

Severe:

  • swelling of the mouth or tongue
  • trouble swallowing or speaking
  • wheezing or trouble breathing
  • belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • dizziness or fainting

What to Do

  • Contact a doctor if your child has an allergic reaction that is more than mild or concerns you.
  • If the symptoms are mild, give an antihistamine by mouth such as diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl).
  • If the symptoms are severe and you have injectable epinephrine (such as EpiPen), use it as directed right away and call 911 for emergency medical help.

Think Prevention!

Help kids avoid anything they're allergic to, and keep an oral antihistamine available.

If your child has a severe allergy or has had a severe reaction, be sure the injectable epinephrine is on-hand at all times (including at school). You, your child (if old enough), and anyone who cares for your child know how to use it.

Back to Articles


Related Articles

Learning About Allergies

During an allergic reaction, your body's immune system goes into overdrive. Find out more in this article for kids.

Read More

A to Z: Rhinitis, Allergic

Allergic rhinitis, sometimes called "hay fever" or seasonal allergies, are allergy symptoms that occur during certain times of the year.

Read More

Allergies

Your eyes itch, your nose is running, you're sneezing, and you're covered in hives. The enemy known as allergies has struck again.

Read More

First Aid: Insect Stings and Bites

Being stung by a bug is often just irritating and doesn't require medical treatment. But kids who are highly allergic to stings may need emergency medical care.

Read More

Nut and Peanut Allergy

Peanuts are one of the most common allergy-causing foods, and they often find their way into things you wouldn't imagine. Learn the facts on living with a nut or peanut allergy.

Read More

What You Need to Know in an Emergency

In an emergency, it's hard to think clearly about your kids' health information. Here's what important medical information you should have handy, just in case.

Read More

Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities

Find more than 30 articles in English and Spanish about all aspects of food allergies in children.

Read More

Allergies

Explore more than 20 articles in English and Spanish about all aspects of allergies in children.

Read More

All About Allergies

Millions of Americans, including many kids, have an allergy. Find out how allergies are diagnosed and how to keep them under control.

Read More

Hives (Urticaria)

Has your child broken out in welts? It could be a case of the hives. Learn how to soothe itchy bumps and help your child feel better.

Read More

Hives (Urticaria)

Hives cause raised red bumps or welts on the skin. They're pretty common and usually not serious. Find out what to do about hives in this article for teens.

Read More

5 Ways to Prepare for an Allergy Emergency

Being prepared for an allergy emergency will help you, your child, and other caregivers respond in the event of a serious reaction.

Read More

5 Ways to Be Prepared for an Allergy Emergency

Quick action is essential during a serious allergic reaction. It helps to remind yourself of action steps so they become second nature if there's an emergency. Here's what to do.

Read More

Serious Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis)

A person with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This reaction can seem scary, but the good news is it can be treated.

Read More

Food Allergies

Doctors are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with food allergies can make a big difference in preventing serious illness.

Read More

Food Allergies

Struggling with strawberries? Petrified of peanuts? Sorry you ate shellfish? Maybe you have a food allergy. Find out more in this article for kids.

Read More

Food Allergies

Food allergies can cause serious and even deadly reactions in kids, so it's important to know how to feed a child with food allergies and to prevent reactions.

Read More

Serious Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis)

Kids with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The good news is that when treated properly, anaphylaxis can be managed.

Read More

Nut and Peanut Allergy

If your child is allergic to nuts or peanuts, it's essential to learn what foods might contain them and how to avoid them.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.