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Could your child be allergic to school?

By citizenmike  |  Posted: September 13, 2013

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Children could be allergic to their school environment, a charity has warned.

Allergy UK fears thousands of children could face health implications after returning back to school, due to their school environment.

Certain floor coverings and soft furnishings within schools can harbour dust mites and other ‘indoor allergens’, exacerbating asthma, rhinitis and eczema symptoms, which are a huge worry for parents with children with respiratory and skin allergies and can have a detrimental effect on their child’s education.

Around 90 per cent of children with these conditions are allergic to house dust mite allergen, whilst 65 per cent also react to cat allergen, which sticks to shoes and is therefore carried onto communal carpets.

With 50 per cent of children in the UK now suffering from allergies, some parents are well versed at managing indoor allergies within the home. However, they have less control over the management of their child’s condition whilst they are at school. The symptoms caused by indoor allergens contribute to disturbed sleep, seriously affecting concentration and attendance.

Respiratory allergies triggered by house dust mites cause symptoms such as itchy, runny or congested nose, sneezing, irritable lower airways and coughing, wheezy, tight chest as well as irritation and inflammation of the eyes, congested sinuses and headaches. The house dust mite allergen affects most children with eczema, causing irritation and scratching in bed, making their skin extremely sore and bleed, contributing to their lack of sleep.

Allergy UK’s director of clinical services, Maureen Jenkins said: “Allergic children’s asthma, rhinitis and eczema is often made worse at school when they have to sit on carpets.

"To protect a dust-mite allergic child from the allergen (the protein in the mite’s faeces) there are practical things that can be done at school; vacuum carpets using approved products or replace with hard floor or textile flocked flooring specially developed not to harbour house dust mites.

"Children will also learn better in a well-ventilated, low humidity, cool room where clutter is kept to a minimum and stored away when not used.”

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