Coping with Seasonal Allergies While Traveling

When you’re on the road with your kids, preparedness is key.  Knowing how to treat something is half the battle.  Being prepared and actually “doing” something about it is the other component.

Renowned Pediatrician and ER doctor, Dr. Dina Kulik, teamed up with Benadryl to educate parents about the difference between colds and allergies to better arm parents for summer travel.  She also answered common concerns related to tick exposure and bug bites!

Family Travel Guide

Symptom Comparison Chart for colds and allergies

Common allergy symptoms: 
Head and neck symptoms
Itchy, watery eyes
Kids running nose (allergic salute)
Dark circles
Nasal crease (from constantly rubbing nose)

If you suspect that your child has recurring allergies, it’s best to get him/her formally diagnosed with a skin-prick test.  In a nut shell, various drops of allergens get dropped into the skin and a small hole gets pricked into the skin to ensure the substance makes it into the body. If you’re allergic a hive will show up (how big the hive grows often determines how allergic you are to something). An allergist does the testing so you’ll need to talk to your family doctor about getting a referral.

NOTE: you cannot get your child tested for something that he/she hasn’t been exposed to yet.  For example, if nut allergies run in your family, you cannot take your baby in to see if he/she is allergic until she’s been given nuts.

Treatment for mild reactions or seasonal allergies:use an over the counter antihistamine like Benadryl.  Follow dosing instructions on package or bottle.

If your child exhibits more serious symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, passing out, difficulty breathing etc.) you need to get to emergency room to take care of your child.  Avoid administering any medication until your child gets seen by a doctor in this case.  Call 9-1-1 if you’re even unsure.


Anyone is at risk of getting allergies — not just people who have had them before. We are all exposed to allergens but our reaction to them can be affected by many things (hydration, exposure, immune system, heredity).  Dr. Kulik says to think of your body like a bucket.  It’s slowly filling up with exposure to allergens and one day, you might find that you’re reacting to something you’ve never reacted to before and that’s likely because your “bucket” is full.


Imagine that every time you play on the playground you get itchy, watery eyes?  Or, if you encounter mold in a home, your face swells up?  You might not want to those activities and with children, this can affect self-esteem. Dr. Kulik says it’s important to make sure you’re assessing how are allergies affect your kids emotionally?

A lot of the time emotions and allergies aren’t discussed. But, Dr. Kulik says, it’s important for families to keep talking about allergies and how they’re affecting each other.  Make sure your kids know to come to you if they’re feeling sad, isolated or left out.


(1) stay covered especially between dawn and dusk and tuck clothes tight (tuck pants into socks)

(2) avoid standing water as that’s where mosquitoes live and breed & black flies settle

(3) apply repellent on children in well ventilated areas and reapply often (use deet. It’s gotten a bad reputation but in a low dose it’s the most beneficial repellent on any kids more than 6 months of age.  Look for products containing 10% deet for the youngsters). When using a deet containing product on your child, make sure YOU spray it and avoid putting it on their hands and faces.

Treat bites topically using over the counter medicines like the Itch Stick.

Tick bites: you shouldn’t be confused by a tick bite. If you see a black thing on your kid’s skin, use tweezers and pull it off. Save it and send it to your doctor for assessment. A public health lab will check it for Lyme disease. If the tick has Lyme disease, your child will be treated for a few weeks. A tick needs to be on your skin for two to three days for the Lyme to transit into your system.  You’ll know it’s been there for a while because they grow quickly so it will be larger than you’d think.

NOTE: Do a skin check at the end of every day. After bath, or before bed, check your child’s skin from top to bottom to ensure there’s nothing new.  Don’t worry too much about the head and scalp area because you’d feel a tick in the hair (they’re hard and don’t burrow under the skin so you’d know something is there)


Dr. Kulik says they see a lot of scrapes as soon as the weather warms up (think bike wipe outs and roller-blade accidents).

(1) Clean with soap and water and then keep the cut wet.  Surprisingly, cuts and scraps heal better when wet so don’t attempt to dry it out. After the wound is cleaned up, use Polysporin to minimize infection (and keep it wet) and then cover it up with a Band-Aid.

When in doubt, clean it out and then see your doctor. But, don’t wait too long if you honestly think a wound needs proper medical attention. The sooner you see a doctor, the better, says Dr. Kulik, because the longer a wound is open it gets dirtier.

RASHES (these are all itchy, annoying and red):

Eczema – dry itchy skin that feels rough like sand paper.  If you draw a circle around your child’s eczema it shouldn’t move around too much. It’s basically a dry skin and it’s usually around for a while.  Use appropriate eczema creams or see your doctor for a prescription.

Hives – raised bumps on skin. If you circle a hive, it will move around the body.

Heat rash/sun rash – this is the body’s reaction to the sun and heat and it appears on exposed areas of the skin. Use Benadryl or hydrocortisone on those affected areas. If you circle your heat rash, it will still stay there. It’s on the sun exposed areas and therefore won’t move around your skin.

Can you take Benadryl and Tylenol/Advil?

Can you use Benadryl for a cold or as a sedative?
Not recommended.

Benadryl can be used in kids under two in the right dose. Check with your doctor.

Is it ok to use it everyday for kids with seasonal allergies? No. Better to find an alternative way to treat it. But ok for a few days in a row.

Weight versus age in terms of dosing?
Everything in medicine is based on weight in kilos. So follow the weight recommendations on packages.

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