Outdoor Seasonal Allergies
Enjoy more of the great outdoors by learning about seasonal allergy triggers, and by identifying ways to minimise your exposure to these allergens.
Outdoor allergies can occur throughout the year in Singapore, especially since the country typically experiences hot and humid weather all-year round. Given the fact that people may spend a fair of their day outdoors, be it a walk in the park, gardening or playing a sport, it is therefore inevitable that may be exposed to the two common triggers of an outdoor allergy - pollen and mold . Pollen can be found in certain types of flowering plants, and can be easily spread by wind, as they are lightweight and small in size. Mold, on the other hand, can be found almost anywhere, including soil, plants and rotting wood.
Relatedly, the haze (a significant environmental problem associated with the rapid modernisation of many cities in Southeast Asia) can cause adverse health and economic impacts in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, and to a lesser degree, the Philippines and Thailand. Given the fact that the chemicals and particle matter of the haze can also be deposited on the skin, it can cause an inflammatory reaction in the body, triggering an allergic reaction or an asthma attack.1
Select an allergy to learn more:
SEASONAL ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
Allergy testing by an allergist can assess whether your symptoms are caused by pollen, mold or another substance.
Pollen spores are one of the most common triggers for seasonal allergies . These spores are typically dry, lightweight and small in nature, which makes it easy for the wind to carry them everywhere. Pollen count can vary on a day-to-day basis, and is dependent upon several factors, such as the weather. For example, dry, windy weather enables pollen to spread rapidly. In stark contrast, heavy rains and humid weather conditions weigh down pollen spores, keeping them grounded.2 In general, plants and trees which pollinate by wind pose the most risk for people with seasonal allergies.
Weed Pollen: The Golden Dewdrop is an ornamental plant that grows abundantly throughout tropical and subtropical regions. It is poisonous to people and most animals, and is a potent and common cause of allergies which are triggered by pollen spores. These thorny, evergreen shrubs or small trees can be found widespread across rocky or sandy coastal areas.
Haze: A haze is an atmospheric phenomenon which causes dust, smoke and other dry particulates to impair the clarity of the sky. These aerosols usually arise from complex chemical reactions that occur as a result of sulphur dioxide gases emitted during combustion converting into small droplets of sulphuric acid. In Southeast Asia, the haze is characterised by a large-scale air pollution problem that is particularly debilitating from July and October.
Environmental Pollution: By definition, environmental pollution refers to the accumulation of toxic heavy metals in the air, water, and land, which in turn reduces the ability of the contaminated sites to support life. Air pollution, in particular, is strongly associated with allergic reactions, asthma and respiratory illnesses.
Tips for Pollen Allergy Sufferers
- BEAT THE BLOOM
Ragweed Pollen counts are typically highest in the morning and at dusk, so try to plan outside activities for other times of the day.
- COVER UP
Wear an inexpensive painter's mask when working in the garden or performing chores outdoors.
- SWITCH UP YOUR ROUTINE
Pollen spores can stick to your shoes, clothing or hair when you are outdoors. To prevent pollen spores from lingering in your house, be sure to remove your shoes, take a quick shower and change your clothes to remove all traces of pollen spores.
- CLEAR THE AIR
When driving, keep the windows up and set the air conditioner mode to "air recirculation." At home, be sure to keep your windows closed and turn on the air-conditioner. Do also ensure that the air-conditioner filter is replaced regularly.
A mold allergy can be triggered by microscopic mold spores that float in the air like pollen , causing uncomfortable mold allergy symptoms. Many people think of mold as an indoor issue only. However, mold can also thrive in shady, damp areas outside, including soil, plants, rotting wood, compost piles or dead leaves.
Like pollen, microscopic mold spores which float in the air can trigger a mold allergy that is accompanied by a number of different allergy symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, mold is not only present in an indoor environment, but also thrives in shade and damp areas outside, such as soil, plants, rotting wood, compost piles or dead leaves.
As such, mold-related allergies may be more common all-year round in warmer climates, especially in countries such as Singapore, which experiences a mixture of hot and humid weather, as well as frequent rainfall throughout the year.
Tips for Mold Allergy Sufferers
- LEAVE IT OUTSIDE
Like pollen , mold spores, too, can stick to your shoes, clothing or hair when you are outdoors. To prevent pollen spores from lingering in your house, be sure to remove your shoes, take a quick shower and change your clothes to remove all traces of pollen spores.3 If you’re pressed for time, be sure to, at the very least, wash your hands and face thoroughly after entering the house.
- MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE RAKE
Mold spores can thrive in a pile of dead, fallen leaves. Therefore, it is important for you to rake your yard often. However, raking can cause mold spores to linger in the air, which is why it is important for you to wear a protective mask while performing this chore. You can also choose to enlist the help of a family member or friend who isn’t allergic to mold spores.
- MASK MOLD SPORES
It is advisable for you to wear a N95 mask that is approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which will help to minimize your exposure to mold spores when cutting grass, raking leaves or digging around plants.3 These masks can usually be purchased from drug stores and home supply centres. You can also choose to enlist the help of a family member or friend who isn’t allergic to mold spores.
- SKIP THE LINE
Mold spores can also stick to bedding or clothing that is hung out to dry on a clothesline. As an alternative, opt to use a dryer instead.4
- Smog: Not an Allergen, but an Irritant, Accessed 12 August 2020
- Pollen. American Academy of Allergy and Immunology. Accessed December 4, 2017.
- What if You’re Allergic to Grass? 10 Steps to Managing Grass Pollen Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Accessed December 4, 2017.
- Mold Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Accessed September 14, 2017.