How To Prevent and Treat Grass Allergies
If your nose is constantly running, your eyes are eternally itchy, and you break out in hives every time you lay in the grass you very well may have a grass allergy. While many of us think of the traditional green stuff when it comes to grass, there are thousands of grass species in North America—and hundreds that trigger allergies.
Whether you’re wondering if you have a grass allergy, want to know more about what grass allergies are, or are searching for allergy relief, you’ll find all of that information here. That way you can live and breathe better indoors and out.
What Causes Grass Allergies
Grass allergies aren’t caused by the blades themselves, but the pollen the plant produces. Grass allergies cause people to sneeze and get runny noses, itchy skin and eyes, sinus infections, and more uncomfortable symptoms. Over 50 million people in America suffer nasal allergies—many of those allergic to common grasses found across the country—so if it’s any comfort you’re not alone!
When Is Grass Allergy Season?
Most people are much more aware of the start of allergy season than they are the middle of it. The start of the pollen allergy season begins around March & April when most trees begin to pollinate. As the weather gets warmer and dryer, the large volumes of wind-born tree pollen die down, but this doesn't mean the end of the misery for the average allergy sufferer. As soon as the tree pollen begins to die down, grass pollen begins to show up in May and stays around until Ragweed pollen shows up with wetter weather in the fall.
Most Common Grasses That Cause Summer Allergies
Although there are thousands of grasses in America, thankfully only a few hundred cause allergies. The following grasses are the most common culprits when it comes to triggering allergies:
If the name is any indication, Bermuda grass likes to grow in warm climates. This perennial grass (one that comes back year after year) is most commonly found in the Southern United States. However, cold-tolerant hybrids have been created for more northern territories.
When Timothy grass goes to seed, its flowering plumes look a lot like a fluffy cat’s tail. While its growing season is short, it comes back every year to release pollen and make people sneeze. On the bright side, this grass and many others feed and sustain tons of wildlife, bugs, and organisms.
You’ll find Johnson grass everywhere in the world except Antarctica. In America, Johnson grass is actually considered an invasive weed; some states even mandate that people remove it. While it’s hard to get rid of Johnson grass completely, you can keep it at bay with proper attention.
This popular grass in America is best suited for warm climates since it doesn’t often survive harsh winters. Ryegrass guzzles water, so if you live in a dry climate you probably won’t have much of this allergen to contend with.
Sweet Vernal Grass
While Sweet Vernal grass smells like hay and vanilla, it wreaks havoc on the immune system. This grass is mostly found in fields and pastures as a forage crop for livestock, so you won’t be able to do much about its presence near you.
What Makes Grass Allergies Worse
Like all seasonal allergies, grass allergies are fleeting. However, you should be aware when grass allergies are at their most powerful and what causes this to happen.
When grass grows to 12-inches or taller, it goes to seed. You will start to see long thin chutes called "seedheads" sticking out of the grass. These seedheads contain pollen. If you see these starting to sprout around your lawn, you are sitting in the middle of a ticking time bomb. Get out and mow!
We wish mowing your lawn were enough to protect your home from the effects of grass pollen. On the days when the wind is low, a cut lawn should be giving you minimal problems. However, grass pollen can travel hundreds of miles on the wind. If it's windy, your allergies are likely going to be worse than normal, because you're likely being exposed to grass pollen blowing in from nearby fields.
Lack of Humidity
When the air is dry, it’s easier for pollen, dirt, spores, and other allergens to travel. Instead of getting stuck on dewy grass or wet leaves, the pollen is free to move through the air and into your sinuses. If it hasn't rained in awhile, or humidity is low, then a small increase in wind could really stir up your allergies.
How to Treat Grass Allergies
Don't suffer needlessly throughout grass allergy season. By knowing the basic factors that contribute to high pollen counts in the air (wind, dryness, etc) you can spend a little more time indoors when you know the days are going to be bad. Follow these additional tips to make your home a refuge where you can breathe freely without the effects of grass pollen in the air.
Air purifiers remove allergens from the air—trapping them in filters so they can’t circulate around your home and through your body. Keep your air purifiers running all-year round to minimize dust, allergens, pet odor, germs, and more airborne pests that can harm your breathing and health.
When grass season is upon us, keep your windows closed. While you will always track pollen into the house, not allowing it to blow in freely through the windows will do wonders for your grass allergies.
If you can, hop in the shower and wash your hair and whole body after spending time outdoors in peek grass allergy season. If you can’t shower, at least scrub your hands and face to remove pollen that may have adhered to your skin.
Pets are magnets for germs, pollen, and other allergens (they’re also allergens themselves!). Give your dogs a bath once per week to wash away some of the grass pollen they bring inside.
It’s no fun to spend your entire spring and summer indoors due to grass allergies. That’s why we hope you use this resource to take proper measures to reduce your grass pollen allergy symptoms and enjoy doing what you love most. May you experience many more grass pollen blooms without as much sneezing, coughing, and nose blowing than you did before reading this article!