Rain and Allergies: Does Rain Make Your Pollen Allergies Worse?

Fact checked by Megan Soliman MD, MSc
Board-certified physician at Saba University School of Medicine

Can you be allergic to rain? You may ask yourself this if you notice your allergy symptoms get worse after rainfall. So, let’s find out how rain and allergies are connected and what you can do to manage your symptoms — come rain or shine!

Rain allergy symptoms

Seasonal allergies are not uncommon: over 50 million Americans experience allergy symptoms every year, especially during spring and summer. They are often triggered by airborne allergens like pollen and mold spores, and their most common symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing

Different weather conditions may improve your symptoms or trigger a more severe reaction, depending on what you are allergic to. In general, dry, windy days increase the concentration of airborne allergens, which may cause an itchy throat and watery eyes. But rain can also be a trigger. Try keeping an allergy diary to monitor when your symptoms get worse, or consider seeing an allergist for a proper diagnosis — they can help determine your triggers and suggest a management plan.

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Does rain help allergies or make them worse?

For the most part, rain can bring relief to people with allergies. It weighs dust and pollen particles down and temporarily clears the air, so you may feel better right after a light rain. Sometimes, however, it can make allergies worse.

During some rainy conditions, especially thunderstorms, pollen particles can explode and release more allergenic proteins into the air. A higher concentration of pollen in the air can cause a more severe allergic reaction.

Tree pollen count rising after rain

It’s not just pollen allergies that can get worse after rain. Mold thrives in humid conditions, so rainy weather can encourage it to grow. Mold spores can then travel through wind, fog, or dew and get in your nose, irritating the airways and causing sneezing or shortness of breath. Dust mite count can also increase in humid weather, so be extra vigilant after long periods of rain if you have a dust mite allergy. Keep an eye on your symptoms, take precautions to reduce your exposure to household allergens, and have your medication on hand.

Pollen count after rain

If you have pollen allergies, you may already keep tabs on the pollen count. Have you ever noticed that it’s usually higher during dry weather? That’s because there’s less moisture in the air to keep the tiny particles down, and they are more easily picked up by the wind and spread around.

After a light rain, when the moisture in the air weighs pollen down, the overall pollen count can be lower, but there are many different types of pollen.

While some pollen can be washed away with rain, the concentration of grass and weed pollen, for example, may increase, particularly after heavy rainfall. This is because the rain hits the ground and breaks up clumps of pollen into smaller particles, releasing more allergens into the air. So you may notice your allergies get worse after rain if you’re allergic to this particular type of pollen.

Rain can influence the pollen count in the long run as well. It encourages plants to grow, bloom, and, as a result, produce more pollen. It's not unusual to see the pollen counts rise a few days after a heavy rainstorm.

People walking in the rain showing no allergy symptoms

How to prevent allergy symptoms in the rain

You can’t control the weather, but you can prevent it from affecting your allergies. If you're sensitive to allergens incited by rain, like grass and weed pollen, check the weather forecast and pollen counts and plan your outdoor activities accordingly.

If possible, try to stay indoors for a few days after rainfall.

Here are a few other steps you can take to improve your allergy symptoms:

  • Keep your windows closed on windy days when the pollen count is high.
  • Wear a face mask when going outside.
  • Change your clothes and take a shower after being outside, if possible.
  • Vacuum your floor and change the bedding often.
  • Get an air purifier to clear the indoor air of any lingering allergens.
  • Fix any leaks and use a dehumidifier to prevent mold growth.
  • Keep the damp areas in your home dry and disinfected.
  • Remove dead leaves from your garden.
  • Take your allergy medication as prescribed.

If your allergy symptoms aren’t improving with your usual medication and coping methods, make an appointment with your doctor. They can run some tests to find what’s causing your allergies, recommend a new medication, or even prescribe allergy shots.

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Final thoughts

Many factors can influence your allergies in rainy weather. Light rain can bring relief to people with pollen allergies, albeit briefly. It helps to weigh pollen down and wash away some airborne allergens. But heavy rain with strong wind can, on the contrary, release more pollen particles into the air, making your allergies worse.

Rain can also affect other common allergens, such as mold and dust mites. They thrive in humid conditions, so you may notice your symptoms get worse, especially after long periods of rain. Keep track of the pollen count and avoid outdoor activities when it’s on the rise. Clean the areas of your home that are prone to mold growth. Consider getting an air purifier to improve your indoor air quality and reduce your allergy symptoms.

August 18, 2022