Claritin for an eight-month-old?
July 19, 2008 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Putting a child under the age of two on Children's Claritin for his allergies...advice, or first-hand anecdotes?

Our eight-month-old baby has multiple allergies and excema. He's tested positive on skin tests for both food (eggs, oranges, garlic) and environmental (mold, dustmites, weeds, grass, you name it) triggers. His main symptoms are transient excema patches on his cheeks, neck, the insides of his elbows, and the backs of his knees; horribly itchy skin on his hands and ankles; and occasionally a stuffy nose and red eyes. The itchy skin, in particular, often wakes him up in the middle of the night, sometimes multiple times -- and thus, wakes us too. We put long sleeves and socks on him and cover his hands so he can't scratch. It doesn't help much.

We run both a HEPA filter and a humidifier in his room, and I've eliminated his trigger foods from my diet since I'm breastfeeding (though not exclusively). His allergist prescribed him topical steroid cream for his occasional excema flare ups, which works well if you use it every day for a few days, but I would rather not use steroids on a kid long-term. We also give occasional small doses of dye-free children's Benadryl (at night only). That works on his allergies pretty well -- for a whopping four hours. We also use Aquaphor on his neck and other allergic patches, and that seems to work well.

His having allergies isn't so surprising, since pretty much everyone in my family has moderate-to-terrible allergies of some sort -- but we all take (or occasionally take) medicine to deal with it. So I'm really wary about putting such a young kid on anything, because it could easily become a long-term medicine.

But with his persistent allergies, his pediatrician now recommends putting him on half a teaspoon of Children's Claritin every day. While this is over the counter, there is very little information out there on Claritin's effects on young kids, especially under the age of two (nevermind that he's under the age of one!), and nothing about long-term effects. One dose of Claritin also lasts for 24 hours, unlike Benadryl's 4-6 hours, and I really don't want him to be zonked out all day. I've also found disturbing anecdotal reports on the web about kids on Zyrtec (not Claritin, but similar) developing sudden behavioral issues.

So, anyone know a kid who's been on Claritin so young? How did it work out? I really don't want to put such a young kid on a somewhat-untested-on-kids medicine, but I can't stand to see him suffer with his allergies either.
posted by Asparagirl to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
i think it's totally reasonable to take him to a pediatric allergist for a second opinion.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:46 AM on July 19, 2008

Response by poster: He has a pediatric allergist -- that's where we did the skin testing, and it's how we got the prescription steroid cream. He recommends Benadryl; pediatrician says move on to Claritin.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:48 AM on July 19, 2008

A humidifier or a dehumidifier?

I had allergies as a kid, and that transient skin rash stuff (cleared up when I discovered girls, I credit them for that), and I could not stand humid air. Drying it out made it much easier to breathe. The fact you mention mould makes me wonder if you really want moist air in the kid's room!

HEPA is always good. For all humans.
posted by rokusan at 10:56 AM on July 19, 2008

Humid air works for eczema. Please don't dehumidify his environment. Nothing is worse for dry skin than dry air.

As a life-long eczema sufferer, I'd say if the Claritin will help reduce his allergies and doesn't cause him to grow a second head, go for it. Also, if you want to talk about this, mefimail me.
posted by chiababe at 10:59 AM on July 19, 2008

i recently had a conversation with my neurologist about a prescription that i have. i don't like taking the drug, especially one that is controlled, and that doesn't have a lot of long-term data associated with it. but my neurologist said that well, at some point we just have to go with what we know now and try not to get bogged down in what information could emerge later. you can wait your entire life for a "perfect" medicine, but in the meantime you're sick and miserable. the drug works and i'm not seeing a lot of bad side effects, so i'm going to stick with it.

i think her advice is sound. try giving it to him, and pay attention to how he does. if you notice problems, stop.
posted by thinkingwoman at 11:01 AM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

My daughter, now 2, has moderate eczema (though it seems to be mostly cleared up in the summertime). Our ped prescribed a topical steroid cream, which we used as needed, almost every night when she was having a flare up. I'm not sure why everyone seems to think it should be avoided. It worked to clear up her itchy/scaly patches quickly with no noticeable side effects. We also switched to California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo & Bodywash, which was much less irritating than the drugstore stuff, even Aveeno.
posted by libraryhead at 11:59 AM on July 19, 2008

Humid air works for eczema. Please don't dehumidify his environment.

They're kind of in a bind, because the kid is allergic to mold, and a dehumidifier inhibits mold.
posted by zippy at 12:40 PM on July 19, 2008

Someone asked a similar question to yours on Yahoo answers. Here's the thread.
posted by zippy at 12:44 PM on July 19, 2008

Gosh, you have my sympathies, this is tough. My husband and I have suffered with allergies and eczema our whole lives. Can't really answer your question about claritin I'm afraid, but have a few comments in case they are helpful.

Seconding the California Baby products, and be sure to use mild and fragrance free soaps and laundry detergents, etc. if you are not already. You want to eliminate anything potentially irritating from contact with his skin. I assume you have also removed dust trapper things like carpeting and drapes etc. from his bedroom?

While our experience with eczema is that too dry is bad, we have found too hot/moist also irritates our eczema, especially my husband's. The HEPA filter is a very good idea and the humidifier, but make sure the bedroom is not too hot/moist (and watch out for mold), and I am not sure that covering his whole body to try to keep him from scatching is that good, because if he is anything like my husband that will just irritate his eczema and get him scratching more. Keep his nails short/smooth, and maybe put hand cream on his finger tips so his fingers slide instead of being able to get a scratch, and try to avoid him sweating in the areas where he is broken out (the knees elbows breakouts especially made my husband nuts at night).

You will probably need to bite the bullet and just use the steroid cream, as that was the only thing that stopped my husband's flares. Your son is in a vicious cycle of itch, scratch, irritate the skin, itch more, scratch, etc., etc.. If you can stop the itching, you will stop the scratching.

He may well eventually outgrow some of this, esp. the food allergies. Note that my husband had such bad eczema when he was in his 30's (and tested positive for multiple food allergies and environmental, not unlike your son) that he decided to try allergy shots (he would have tried anything at that point), and they made a huge difference, and he now has very little trouble with eczema and just takes zyrtec now and then during spring allergy season when he starts noticing effects from tree pollen.
posted by gudrun at 12:55 PM on July 19, 2008

Have you asked the dermatologist about Claritin? If you do, you might find that he/she thinks Benadryl is more effective, not necessarily safer. If that's the case, Claritin is worth trying.

Use the smallest amount that works; you don't have to use a half-teaspoon right away. My sister's son has been taking Claritin since before there was a Children's Claritin; a doctor suggested that she dissolve part of a tablet in milk for him when he was aout 2 1/2. She switched because of the drowsiness caused by Benadryl.
posted by wryly at 2:41 PM on July 19, 2008

ianad My ex husband had eczema. We kept it under control with "free" laundry detergents, meaning no perfumes and dyes and using t-gel or tar shampoo as body wash. His sensitive baby skin might not be able to tolerate it full strength but maybe with it diluted in baby wash.

I have taken claritin for years but only take it in spring and in fall/early winter every other day. I don't have the sneezing ect but have the itchiness. Maybe he can take it every other day or every 2 days.
posted by meeshell at 4:37 PM on July 19, 2008

I have a five-year old with allergies. He sneezed a lot almost everyday and some days were terrible with tons of snot all day long. He always had a stash of Kleenex in his pocket. Some days I think all of this sneezing affected his quality of life, especially when he was in school. On two occasions he had an "attack". His eyes were almost completely swollen shut. He was absolutely miserable. I waited until the age of five to do something about it. I didn't do something about it earlier, because some days were better than others. Some days, a lot of days, he had no symptoms at all, and I thought I'd wait it out. I finally brought it up at his five year well visit. Our pediatrician advised to give him one Children's Claritin chew tabs as needed. We have been without any hesitation and he feels much better. I give them to him when he has symptoms, which is probably once a week.

Personally, and obviously since my kid is on it, I would not hesitate to give my child Claritin if there was a need.
posted by LoriFLA at 6:39 PM on July 19, 2008

The university that I work at is in the middle of a pediatric study on the use of bleach water to calm eczema. I know absolutely nothing about eczema or pediatrics, but it was mentioned in a recent article in the New York Times. (I'm not saying to dip your baby in bleach — please ask the doctor!)

Also, this article points to a change in how eczema is viewed — to a focus on the skin, not the allergies.
posted by limeswirltart at 8:05 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

My 14-month-old has eczema and, we think, dust mite allergies--not as severely as it sounds like your son does though.

One thing to keep in mind about prescription drugs for a baby is that babies tend to get dehydrated more easily than adults, and dehydration might intensify the drugs' effect(s). If you do decide to go with the Claritin, you might want to ask your pediatrician whether or not to give him his usual dose if he has a flu, fever or diarrhea and you suspect he's getting dehydrated. I'm not sure if this would happen with Claritin; it's just a principle.

Good's especially rough for babies and parents both when they can't sleep well at night.
posted by homelystar at 9:56 PM on July 19, 2008

Humid air works for eczema. Please don't dehumidify his environment.

They're kind of in a bind, because the kid is allergic to mold, and a dehumidifier inhibits mold.

Hm, I guess the mold was a bigger issue for me than the skin. I think I used lotion. But that was a million yrs ago.
posted by rokusan at 10:58 PM on July 19, 2008

Can't help with the Claritin, but for the eczema, I have a suggestion: my baby was "diagnosed" with eczema when he was two months old. The Ped kept saying to slather him every night in Vaseline within three minutes of coming out the his bath. I laughed at that, ignored her, and used all of the Aveeno products, topical steriod spray, etc.

After about two months of trying everything and not really seeing huge improvements, I decided to finally take her advice. It cleared the eczema up within two nights. No kidding. I continue to use it every night after his bath and it works like a dream. Obviously, using long sleeves/pants and socks help keep the moisture in, but I would really suggest trying it ... just do it as a test for a week and see if it improves. I'm in Arizona and it's dry here (doh!), so we also use a humidifier - cold in the summer and warm in the winter - and he's been really great. This is going on from about 4 months to now (he's 15 months). He occasionally gets spots on his shins or behind his knees if I skip a bath night, but slather the next night and he's good to go.
posted by cyniczny at 10:40 AM on July 20, 2008

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