Allergy Countdown: The Battle of the Sexes (of Plants)

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So what is in the air? Look out for seasonal tree pollens now wherever you are and learn more about these allergy culprits that are likely to be not only in your backyard - but also in your nose and eyes!

Plant pollens such as trees, grasses and weeds are not the only allergens that affect the us while working in the garden. Many mold spores also affect people in the outdoors, seasonally, or even year round.

If there is an existing pollen problem in your landscape, replace that plant with a less allergenic selection. A system that may help you do this and indicates the likelihood of a plant's potential to cause allergy is the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale.

A pollen-producing tree in your own yard will expose you to up to ten times the amount of pollen as would the same tree planted just down the block from your home!

Here are some more allergy sufferer's tips for you and your yard:

  • Wear a pollen mask while gardening
  • Keep grass cut short
  • Avoid touching your eyes and nose while gardening
  • Plan outdoor time for rainy, wet, cloudy and windless days - which usually have lower pollen counts
  • After yard work, leave your clothing outside of your bedroom, brush off your shoes and rinse your glasses. Also, wear gloves to minimize local contact and reduce irritation to the skin of your hands and arms
  • Limit your gardening to short intervals on "high" pollen days
  • If you are allergic to mold spores, avoid damp places and stagnant water
  • Proximity and location of pollen-producing trees, shrubs and plants will affect your exposure to seasonal allergens
  • Planting female trees in one's own yard may trap incoming airborne pollen from male plants

Happy planting!

Dr. Clifford W. Bassett

is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.