What is an allergy?
An allergy is when the body has a reaction to a trigger. Allergic reactions usually happen within a few minutes of contact but can be delayed by a few hours.
Most allergic reactions are mild, but more severe reactions can occur. Sometimes mild reactions can develop quickly into a more severe reaction.
The most severe reaction is called anaphylaxis (ana-fill-axis) and can be life threatening. The signs of this are in the red box below. Children with severe allergic reactions need emergency hospital treatment. Ring 999 immediately for help if your child is having a severe reaction.
If your child has a mild allergic reaction immediately contact your GP or call NHS 111.
Common triggers for allergy are:
- Foods such as nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs and some fruits
- Bee stings
- Wasp stings
- Latex (a type of rubber found in some rubber gloves)
- Tightness in the chest or throat
- Swelling of the mouth, face, tongue, lips or throat
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Hoarse voice
- Harsh noise as they breathe in (stridor)
- Persistent coughing
- Has laboured, rapid breathing or they are working hard to breathe, drawing in of the muscles below their lower ribs, at their neck or between their ribs (recession)
- Dizziness, fainting episode or collapse
- Pale or floppy
You need urgent help.
Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999
- Runny nose or eyes
- Itchy skin or a raised rash (hives)
- Tingling mouth
- Lip, face or eye swelling
You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.
Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111
- Care for your child at home
- Speak to your local community pharmacist for advice
Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111
This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw with consent from the Hampshire development groups.
What can I do?
If you are worried that your child is having a severe allergic reaction, you need to call 999 for an ambulance immediately and state anaphylaxis (ana-fill-axis).
- If your child has an adrenaline autoinjector (Epi-pen) use it immediately
- Remove the trigger which caused the reaction if you can
- Sit them up if they are having difficulty breathing
- Do not stand them up or move them
- You can give a second dose of adrenaline (Epi-pen) after 5 minutes
If you have had to use your child’s autoinjector (Epi-pen) then they should always go to hospital for further observation.
If your child is having a mild to moderate allergic reaction, give them an antihistamine medicine to help with the symptoms.
If your child has had an allergic reaction you should avoid the trigger whenever possible.
Contact your GP if your child has had an allergic reaction.
Allergy UK has information on anaphylaxis
Beat Anaphylaxis has information for children, young people, families and professionals
Itchy Sneezy Wheezy has a series of videos on food allergy, anaphylaxis and how to use an epipen