Weather Allergies

It might surprise you to know that the weather can have an impact on your allergies. If you feel congested when it rains, or have runny watery eyes when it’s windy outside, you might have weather allergies.

Read more about weather allergies, the seasons you’re most at risk, and how to treat those symptoms.

A young well-dressed woman blowing her nose on a rainy day in the city

bernardbodo / Getty Images

How Weather Allergies Can Affect You

Allergic reactions occur when your immune system reacts to an allergen—anything your body identifies as “foreign.”

Allergy symptoms can be similar to symptoms from other conditions, such as the common cold. These symptoms are often worse if you also have asthma.

Weather Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Dry, scaly skin

Events That Can Affect Weather Allergies

Different types of weather can cause different types of allergy symptoms.

Dry, Windy Days

Dry, windy days can cause allergy symptoms to spike. Wind plays a big role in pollen levels, and pollen is a very common allergen. If you’ve ever woken up to find yellow dust covering your car, you know what pollen looks like.

This fine, dust-like substance helps fertilize plants. It is very lightweight, and is easily picked up and carried through the air when it’s dry and windy. The allergen is then in the air you breathe, in very large amounts.

Mold is another source of allergy symptoms on dry, windy days. Molds and fungi are very common outdoors, and wind can pick up their spores (seeds) and spread them around.

Humid, Rainy Days

Allergy symptoms can also be worse on humid, rainy days. Although mold spores often spread through wind, some types of mold spread when humidity is higher. Spores from these types of mold travel through fog or dew.

Humid, rainy days can sometimes be beneficial for people with pollen allergies. When pollen gets wet, it becomes heavier, making it more likely to stay on the ground rather than in the air where you might breathe it in.

However, rain can sometimes have the opposite effect on pollen. When humidity is very high, pollen particles can actually explode and leak allergenic proteins into the air. This often happens during a thunderstorm.

Cold Temperature Days

Cold temperature days can cause their own type of allergic reaction—a condition called cold urticaria. This condition can be triggered by exposure to cold temperatures, both outside and inside (such as an air-conditioned room).

Symptoms can include:

  • Red skin
  • Dizziness/feeling lightheaded
  • Swollen lips/throat
  • Swollen skin
  • Hives
  • Itchy skin

Cold urticaria can be “outgrown,” or it could last a lifetime. Symptoms resolve within five years for about 50% of people who get this condition.

Cold urticaria can often be treated with medications called antihistamines, which block allergy symptoms. In more severe cases, you might need prescription medication.

Warm Temperature Days

Warmer temperatures can also increase your exposure to allergens, such as pollen. Warmer air carries more pollen particles, which means you’re more likely to breathe them in.

Seasonal Weather Allergies

Weather-related allergies are often called “seasonal allergies” because different seasons cause certain allergies to get worse.

Spring

In most of the United States, spring allergies typically start in February and end in the beginning of summer. This is due to plant pollination cycles.

Large amounts of pollen from grasses and trees are present in the spring when temperatures are cooler at night and warmer during the day. Pollen levels are highest in the evenings during the spring season.

Summer

Pollen season for grass and trees continues into the summer. Pollen levels are highest in the evenings in the beginning of summer.

Ragweed pollen season (which can trigger “hay fever”) hits later in the summer, with higher pollen levels in the mornings.

Fall

Less plant allergens are present in the air when fall hits, but ragweed pollen season continues into early fall. Mold can also be present in damp areas, such as near piles of dead leaves.

Winter

Other than cold urticaria, most weather-related allergies do not occur in very cold temperatures. Many plants are dead, and outdoor mold is dormant until spring weather hits.

If you have allergy symptoms in the winter, they are less likely to be caused by weather. You might be allergic to indoor allergens such as dust, indoor mold, or pet dander.

Ways to Manage Your Weather Allergies

While you can’t prevent allergies or control the weather, you can take steps to help manage your symptoms. Whenever possible, avoid exposure to your allergens. Check your local news for daily pollen counts, and schedule outdoor activities when levels are lower. Monitor the weather to keep track of triggers, such as rain or wind. Wear a mask when working outdoors, and wash your clothes once you get back inside.

Treatments

Symptoms from weather allergies can often be managed with over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, nose sprays, and creams.

Antihistamines block the chemicals in your immune system that are causing an allergic reaction. Decongestants decrease swelling in your nose and sinuses to make breathing easier.

Nasal sprays are also very effective for treating runny, itchy nose symptoms. Skin creams can temporarily reduce itching and pain from allergy-related rashes. However, prescription medications such as topical or oral steroids might be required to treat more severe allergies.

In some cases, immunotherapy can be used to treat allergies. During immunotherapy, a small amount of your allergen is introduced to your body through a shot or a pill that dissolves under your tongue. Over time, your body learns not to overreact to the substance that is causing your symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

While weather allergy symptoms can be annoying, they aren’t usually life-threatening. See your doctor to discuss medications and home remedies that can help improve your quality of life during allergy season.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you forecast weather allergies?

    Watching the weather forecast can help you plan outdoor activities to minimize your symptoms.

  • How long do weather allergies last?

    Length of symptoms for seasonal allergies depend on your specific allergen. Allergy symptoms often fluctuate with changes in season.

  • Where is the best place to live if you have weather allergies?

    The best location for you to live with allergies depends on your allergens. For example, if you’re allergic to cold weather, environments that are warm year-round can help decrease your symptoms.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Pollen allergies. Updated April 23, 2018.

  2. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Pollen defined.

  3. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Mold allergy. Updated October 2015.

  4. Reinmuth-Selzle K, Kampf CJ, Lucas K, et al. Air pollution and climate change effects on allergies in the anthropocene: abundance, interaction, and modification of allergens and adjuvantsEnviron Sci Technol. 2017;51(8):4119-4141. doi:10.1021/acs.est.6b04908

  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Welts on skin due to cold temperature could be hives.

  6. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Extreme allergies and climate change.

  7. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Common seasonal allergy triggers. Updated December 28, 2017.

  8. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Allergy treatment. Updated March 2018.