Girl blowing fluff off of Dandelion

Pediatric Allergy Care

Make an Appointment

Having a child with allergies can be terrifying. You may not know exactly what their allergy triggers are. Or you struggle to manage their symptoms, like wheezing, rashes, or hives.

While allergies are common, there’s a wide range of severity. While some are easy to work around, others can be life-threatening.

At UVA Health Children’s, we serve as an allergy referral point for the entire mid-Atlantic region due to our expertise and range of specialties. Working together with your child’s pediatrician, we’ll coordinate care.

Allergy Diagnosis & Immunology Treatment at UVA Health Children’s

Diagnosing allergies can be challenging. We’ll work with you every step of the way to make sure we’re addressing your concerns.

At UVA Health Children’s, we have access to all available diagnostic tools for allergies.

One of the most important steps in diagnosing allergies is identifying the trigger, or allergen. A trigger is the item that your child is reacting to. Your child may have many triggers that cause different symptoms. That can make it hard to identify the triggers.

How are allergy triggers identified?

We use several tests to pinpoint which allergen is causing the problems.

Skin prick test – We use this test to look for some of the most common triggers, like dust, mold, or pet fur. We lightly scratch the skin on the underside of your child’s arm or on their back. Then, a small amount of allergen is introduced. If the reaction is positive, redness or bumps will appear in around 15 minutes.

Intradermal skin test – A small amount of allergen is injected under the top layer of your child’s skin. This is a good test for bee stings. It can also help if the skin prick test was inconclusive.

Patch test – This test can help us figure out the source of skin allergies. A small amount of allergen is placed on your child’s skin and then covered with a bandage. After a couple of days, we remove the bandage and see if there has been a reaction.

Blood test – When your child’s body encounters an allergen, it produces specific antibodies  (IgE) which is what causes allergies. We can take a blood sample and expose it to allergens to see if it creates these antibodies.

Challenge test – If your child has suspected food or drug allergies, they’ll ingest a small amount. This sounds scary, but we’ll keep your child safe, but a medical provider will be right there in case your child has a reaction.

Conditions We Treat

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Angioedema
  • Asthma
  • Castleman Disease
  • Drug allergy
  • Eczema
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis
  • Food allergies
  • Food intolerance
  • Hives
  • Insect allergy
  • Mast cell disorders
  • Mold allergies
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Sinusitis
Allergy-free school lunch packing

Struggling with Food Allergies?

Learning ways to enjoy favorite meals without triggering allergies can help kids adjust. Our nutritionists can help you make foods that everyone can enjoy. In the meantime, you can read this article to learn more about packing allergy-friendly lunches.
Parent's Guide to Allergy-Free Lunches

Treatments for Allergies

We have a full range of treatments available for allergies, so we can find one that’s right for your family.

Immunotherapy is an option for skin, food, and environmental allergies. This treatment provides the most long-lasting relief from allergies.

Your provider gives your child an injection with a small amount of allergen in it. We repeat this process, along with careful monitoring, until your child no longer has a reaction to the trigger.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for every allergy. But there are many other treatment options available.

Many of the other treatments for skin, food, and respiratory allergies differ. But what they all try to do is to reduce the number and severity of incidents.

What Are Allergy Symptoms?

Some of the most common allergy symptoms include:

  • Itchy, watery, red, or swollen eyes
  • Nose congestion
  • Swollen lips, tongue, or throat
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches
  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Hives
  • Dry skin, sometimes to the point of being cracked or broken
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive upset
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea 


What Causes Allergies?

Allergies are caused by your immune system responding to something that’s normally not harmful (dust) as if it were harmful. But what makes that happen isn’t always clear.  Sometimes it’s genetic. Sometimes it’s caused by being exposed to an allergen when your immune system is already in overdrive, like after an illness.

The response can range from annoying, like a sneeze, to truly dangerous, like not being able to breathe (anaphylaxis).

Do Kids Outgrow Allergies?

Kids often outgrow allergies. But some types of allergies get worse with each event.  Whether or not your child will outgrow theirs depends on a few different factors. Some of those are:

  • What they’re allergic to
  • How strong a reaction they have
  • How their allergen is reintroduced to them

As an example, most children with an egg allergy will outgrow it. On the other hand, it’s very unusual for a child with a peanut or shellfish allergy to outgrow it.

Immunotherapy can help a child’s body outgrow their allergen a little faster. At follow-up visits, we can also retest allergens.

When we reintroduce an allergen, a slow, systemic approach helps reduce the chance of a strong reaction.

Some of the Common Allergies We See

Food allergies like: 

  • Milk 
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Environmental allergies like: 

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Cockroaches
  • Insect stings

Medical allergies like: 

  • Specific medications (like penicillin)
  • Latex

Contact/skin allergies like: 

  • Nickel
  • Balsam
  • Formaldehyde
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Plants 
  • Fertilizers