June 6, 2022

Mowing the lawn and the smell of fresh-cut grass are signs of summer. They are also very common allergy triggers.

Srinivasan Ramanuja MD


Mowing the lawn and the smell of fresh-cut grass are signs of summer. They are also very common allergy triggers.

Seasonal allergies develop when the body’s immune system overreacts to something in the environment, usually grass pollens in the summer. The body makes chemicals called histamines which cause the typical symptoms of sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, watery and itchy eyes, itchy nose, throat or ear canals, sinus congestion and postnasal drip.

Follow these tips to ease your allergy symptoms when mowing the lawn:

  • Keep your grass mowed to a height of about 2 inches to prevent grass from pollinating as often.
  • Bag lawn clippings and compost if possible to keep pollen levels low.
  • Shower and change your clothes after mowing the lawn.
  • Keep windows closed in your home and car when you are mowing the lawn.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat to keep pollen out of your eyes and hair.
  • Consider wearing an N95 dust mask to keep the grass pollen from entering the nose and mouth.
  • Mow when the pollen count is low. Check pollen.com for local counts and forecast. Pollen tends to be lower in the evening.
  • Keep lawn-mowing shoes outside in the garage or shed.

You can also take an antihistamine. Antihistamines block the histamines to stop the allergy symptoms. Popular antihistamines include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin) and fexofenadine (Allegra). While newer antihistamines tend to have less side effects, remember all medications carry side effects. Always read the label for side effects, drug interactions and dosage. If you’re unsure if an antihistamine is right for you, ask your primary care provider, pharmacist or allergist.

Nasal sprays can be helpful when nasal symptoms are not adequately controlled by an oral antihistamine. Nasal sprays can target congestion, runny nose, nasal itching and sneezing. Steroid nasal sprays are available over-the-counter and by prescription. It usually takes a week before symptoms improve. Always read the label for side effects, interactions and directions. Your primary care provider, allergist or pharmacist can answer your questions about nasal sprays.

If seasonal allergies are not well controlled or you want to know your allergy triggers, allergy testing is recommended. Based on testing results, patients can avoid allergy triggers and take medications at certain times of the year.

Allergy shots, known as subcutaneous immunotherapy, is another option. Allergy shots take specific environmental allergens and inject them under the skin. Doses are increased over time. Once the body builds up a tolerance or immunity to the allergen, the shots may be discontinued. The typical recommended duration of immunotherapy is 3 to 5 years. Immunotherapy works very well for allergies to pollens from trees, grass and weeds, cats, dogs, dust mites and mold.

Talk with your primary care provider if seasonal allergies are affecting your life.

Learn more about services available at Mankato Clinic Allergy.