Whilst it might sound like one of those classic school excuses like ‘my dog ate my homework’, Allergy UK has issued a warning that thousands of children returning to school could face health implications due to their school environment.
Over 50 per cent of children in the UK now suffer from allergies, and while many parents are careful to manage indoor allergies at home they do not have the same control over their child’s school environment.
Unfortunately many of the symptoms caused by indoor allergens can contribute to disturbed sleep which in turn seriously affects concentration and attendance at school.
What are environmental allergens?
In the school environment floor coverings and soft furnishings can harbour dust mites and other ‘indoor allergens’ which exacerbate asthma, rhinitis and eczema.
For many parents whose children suffer from these conditions, it is a major worry that environmental allergens may have a detrimental effect on their child’s education.
Around 90 per cent of children with these conditions suffer an allergic reaction to the house dust mite allergen. Another cause of allergic reaction can be the cat allergen which affects 65 per cent of children with allergies and sticks to shoes and is then carried onto communal carpets.
House dust mite allergies cause symptoms which include itchy, runny or blocked nose, sneezing, coughing, a wheezy tight chest, irritated and inflamed eyes, blocked sinuses and headaches.
The house dust mite also affects children with eczema as it causes irritation and itching, often leading to a lack of sleep as children are extremely uncomfortable.
What can schools do to help?
As children at school often have to sit on carpets this is where many of allergic reactions occur, but vacuuming with an Allergy UK approved product or replacing carpets with a hard wood or textile floor designed not to harbour dust mites can improve conditions.
Also teaching children in a well-ventilated, low humidity and clutter free room will not only reduce the effects of ‘indoor allergens’ but also also help children to learn and concentrate better.
Allergy UK is encouraging all UK schools to consider the impact of the learning environment on children with severe indoor allergies, however, they remind parents that for any effort the school makes to be effective the home environment should be similarly well ventilated with suitable flooring to reduce indoor allergens.
Allergy UK also provides an extensive resource of allergy recommendations for schools.
Skin care for allergy-prone children
Children who suffer from a range of allergies may also have a tendency to react to hair, body and skin care products. We recommend trying our natural range of Organic Children and Organic Young products which avoid harsh chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances and irritating sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS).
Made with organic essential oils and plant extracts, you can be safe in the knowledge that the products are kind to your child’s skin and the environment.