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Cedar pollen to fall, oak pollen to rise

Dr. John Freiler demonstrates how a skin allergy test is administered on office employee Dan Machado on Feb. 2, 2024.
Premier Allergy of Texas
Dr. John Freiler demonstrates for TPR how a skin allergy test is administered on office employee Dan Machado on Feb. 2, 2024.

Local allergists report cedar pollen counts that trigger "cedar fever" are beginning to drop into the low-to-moderate range in San Antonio this month.

Dr. John Freiler at Premier Allergy of Texas on Alamo Ranch Parkway said this cedar pollen season has been "very robust."

He said cedar allergy sufferers coming to his office this winter have been miserable.

"They look sick," Freiler said. "They're sweaty, they're flushed. Their eyes are red. They're just miserable. And it's very unique. I truly don't see that type of reaction to the other pollens, other than, perhaps, oak."

Sadly, the transition from cedar pollen season to live oak season is upon us. He said the worst of the cedar pollen usually departs the air by the end of February.

"Occasionally, they'll see some counts going into March, maybe [by] St. Paddy's Day, but [those are] pretty low," Freiler said. "Right around that March timeframe into April, oak will start to pollinate, and that will go pretty consistent through early May."

Pollen explodes from cedar tree
Andy Heatwole
Texas A&M Forest Service
Pollen explodes from cedar tree

The gusty cold fronts that blow the pollen off Ashe junipers in the Hill Country and into San Antonio are becoming less common. So much cedar pollen can be disturbed at one time that it appears to be smoke from a distance.

Freiler said both cedar and live oak are prolific pollen makers, which means even those without allergies can be prompted to cough and sneeze because of the sheer volume of the stuff floating in the air.

It's not uncommon to see lime green pollen fall so heavy from live oak trees that it coats vehicles, sidewalks, and driveways.

Freiler said sufferers can combine medications to battle both tree pollen allergies, like an over-the-counter antihistamine in combination with a nasal steroid.

Freiler said if you had to go with just one over-the-counter medication, you should go with a nasal steroid medicine.

He said tree pollen sufferers should stay indoors on clear, windy days. Freiler also supports a regimen of "rinse it off, wash it out." Use nasal saline, natural tear eye drops, and blow your nose.

He said it's also a great idea to remove pollen-covered clothes after being outdoors and to take a shower.

The good news is ragweed season won't arrive in San Antonio until August.