With the onset of fall comes cooler weather, crisp, colorful leaves, activities like pumpkin-carving and apple picking and, oh yeah, unfortunately for some, a whole new slew of insufferable seasonal allergies.
According to Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a Beverly Hills-based board-certified dermatologist and pediatrician, the two most common fall allergens are ragweed and mold.
“Interestingly, they rarely occur at the same time in the same environment,” she explained. “Ragweed is a weed that grows from late August through October. Its pollen can travel hundreds of miles, stick to clothing and get caught in vents and ducts, let alone blow in through open windows.”
For this reason, Shainhouse said, windy days can be disastrous for those who are particularly allergic to ragweed (about 15 percent of the population).
“Rain, humidity and eventually frost, wash away pollen and prevent it from blowing in the air,” Shainhouse explained.
But until then, she shared the following essential tips for combating these common fall allergens.
Tips For Avoiding Ragweed
1. Stay indoors when pollen counts are high and when it is very windy out. Avoidance is the best prevention. Check online for the pollen counts in your area. If you must exercise outdoors, consider the early evening, when counts are usually lowest.
2. Clean air ducts, replace filters (AC and furnace) in your car and home to prevent recirculation of pollen. Consider high-efficiency filters and change them every season (three months).
3. Leave jackets and shoes at the door to prevent bringing pollen inside.
4. Take an allergy pill daily. Don’t wait for symptoms to develop. Anti-histamines, like Claritin (Loratidine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine) and Allegra (Fexofenadine) are non-sedating options that will prevent a severe reaction if you are exposed.
5. Keep windows in your car and home closed, especially on windy days. Use the recirculating setting on the AC in your car to keep all pollen out.
6. Consider exercising in more humid locations, like the beach, or after the rain, when ragweed pollen counts are considerably lower.
7. Don’t let outdoor pets come into your bedroom. Their fur picks up pollen.
8. Wear sunglasses and a hat outside to prevent pollen from irritating your eyes and getting stuck in your hair.
9. Shower before bed.
10. Use allergen-proof bedding: mattress covers, pillow cases, etc.
11. Consider avoiding foods (bananas, zucchini, melon) that belong to the ragweed family, because they can trigger allergy symptoms, especially during this season.
12. Consider Allergy shots to build your tolerance to ragweed.
In contrast to ragweed, mold growth flourishes in wet, humid environments. So, it can be difficult to avoid both allergens at the same time.
Tips For Avoiding Mold
1. Stay dry and exercise indoors after prolonged periods of rain or very humid weather.
2. Pooled, stagnant water and wet, decaying vegetation are breeding grounds for molds. Clean up piles of wet leaves in your yard and in your eaves.
3. If you drive with the AC on, remember to turn it off before turning off your car in order to leave the vents open to the outside, so they can dry out and prevent mold and mildew.
4. Take an allergy pill daily. Again, anti-histamines, like Claritin (Loratidine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine) and Allegra (Fexofenadine) are non-sedating options that will prevent a severe reaction if you are exposed.