Chores Outdoors? Watch Out for Hidden Allergens

Sometimes, we joke that one of the reasons that we had children was to help with the household chores. Admittedly, having them pitch in does help everything run a bit more smoothly. Chores are also a parents’ way to ready their children for adulthood, teach them responsibility and to show them first hand that nothing is as easy as it seems. The majority of parents are excited the first time they don’t have to mow the lawn or pull up some weeds from the garden. What some parents may not know is that caution must also be taken to avoid unseen allergy triggers. First and foremost, our children (especially those with allergies) should always take the necessary precautions to avoid as many health and life threatening situations as possible.

The most typical triggers include environmental components that fly through the air and love to settle inside of our nasal passages as well as our hair. Even on the clearest of days, sending your child out into the beautiful air may bring them back to you in a sneezy, itchy condition you were not expecting. What began as pitching in for the family could end as an allergy-saving effort with the entire family. Since we cannot stop the pollen changes or the plants from needing to be trimmed, check the forecast before you venture outside. Be sure that your child is prepared by having them wear a mask, eye protection and gloves. Simple precautions could help keep this allergy explosion under control.

Sometimes obvious triggers are not so obvious. Those who have insect or bee venom allergies should always remember to have two auto injectors and other medications with them at all times in case of a surprise meeting. The trouble is that some of these insects are no longer as visible as they used to be. While you are watching out for them up in the trees, you could be walking right into a swarm that has burrowed underground. Even though they are only looking for a safe place to live, they see disturbances as a threat and may swarm into action instantly. A single sting is scary but multiple stings are definitely horrific to think about. Be aware of your surrounds and wear long pants and long sleeves to limit the possibility of easy access of areas to be stung.

Another source of outside allergy reactors may be found in cicadas. If you have a shellfish allergy, be prepared before your child decides to pick one up and see what they are all about. Cicadas are part of the arthropod family (which shellfish belongs to) and although they may seem quite harmless, they could be an instant reminder of that shellfish allergy. Most of us don’t even consider insects and shellfish to be related but an allergy doesn’t discriminate. If your child is curious, have them wear gloves and be available in case the nature seeking turns into a completely different scenario.

We have all been told “leaves of three, let it be” to avoid poison ivy and sumac but what is often left out of the conversation is the lingering impact that the oil can have on us when we eat specific foods. Cashew trees and mango trees are part of the same plant family that contains urushiol oil on their leaves just like poison ivy and sumac. In addition to that, each time you break out from an exposure to these plants, the worse your reaction will become. Some people have reported having an allergic reaction to mangos and/or cashews after being exposed to urushiol oil. This may not be the case for everyone but being knowledgeable and cautious may keep you one step ahead of an unanticipated snack turned dangerous. If your child has a known cashew or mango allergy, the best thing to do is to have them be especially careful to avoid poison ivy and sumac. If your child is an outdoor fanatic, teach them what to watch for and tell them how important it is to wear protective layers to avoid contact with the oils (just as they should for other outdoor triggers) and make sure your child showers off with a product that can remove the oils to lessen the chance of cross reactivity.

Having a child with allergies can be tricky- being prepared is always the first step in avoiding any allergy trigger. With multiple factors waiting for an opportunity to jump out from around the corner, parents who have children with allergies and the children themselves can understandably be afraid to learn this new phase of life. Keeping an open and honest discussion with your child about their allergies and what they can do to make it easier for them are simple ways to ensure that your child understands how to be prepared. It also sends a gentle reminder to you as a parent about how important it is to pass along knowledge about your child’s health as well as how to keep the yard clean. Teaching the responsibility of a chore can always wait but teaching the responsibility of understanding your allergens is something that must be learned immediately.

About the Author

Tracy Bush is the founder and President of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps, such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods, where to shop and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies" at Tracy is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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