Attention mountain cedar sufferers: A cold snap is coming to the rescue

Mountain cedar pollen is visible as cloudy puffs just above the trees in Junction in January 2014.
Mountain cedar pollen is visible as cloudy puffs just above the trees in Junction in January 2014. Texas Tech University Center at Junction

Those suffering itchy eyes and runny noses — courtesy of mountain cedar pollen — should get a brief reprieve this week.

The arctic air blowing through North Texas should reduce the amount of pollen in the air.

This year, the so-called Christmas allergy appeared right on schedule. After some sporadic pollen counts in mid-December, mountain cedar began showing up in force the day after Christmas and has been making allergy sufferers miserable.

Mountain cedar blows in from Central Texas and the Hill Country on warm, windy days, but with temperatures expected to drop below freezing overnight — and into the mid-20s later this week — the pollen count should drop.

But once it warms back up, mountain cedar will return.

“The pollen is triggered by light periodicity and temperatures — cold will usually cock the process with pollination with the next warm patch the trigger,” Fort Worth allergist Bob Lanier said.

Mountain cedar counts were moderate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area Monday and Tuesday, but in Austin and San Antonio — where juniper trees that produce mountain cedar pollen are more prevalent — the counts were literally exploding.

The highest count came on New Year’s Day, where San Antonio allergist Paul Ratner recorded a mountain cedar count of 29,000. As a comparison, the pollen count Monday in Dallas was 2,325.

The cold snap arrived Tuesday morning and a second front will arrive Thursday, when overnight temperatures are expected to drop to 25 degrees, warming up to the mid-30s during the day Friday. There’s slight chance of a wintry mix of flurries and sleet Friday afternoon.

Warmer weather is on the horizon Monday, which could mean more headaches for mountain cedar sufferers.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

Seasonal allergies can leave you with a cough, itchy and runny eyes and stuffed up nose. Mayo Clinic allergist Dr. Nancy Ott says over-the-counter remedies such as antihistamines for itchy eyes and noses, and corticosteroid nasal spray for congest

Battling mountain cedar

For those with severe mountain cedar allergies, these steps have been recommended by some allergists:

Keep windows closed at home during the pollen season, especially on windy days.

Keep the home dusted, but the person who is allergic should not do the dusting.

Always shower immediately after working outside or spending time outside. This will help get the pollen off your skin and out of your hair.

Wear close-fitting or “wraparound” sunglasses to reduce pollen in the eyes. Use artificial-tears eye drops to wash away the pollen.

If you have allergies, take prescribed antihistamines and nasal sprays daily during the allergy season. They work much better to prevent allergy symptoms before they start than after.

Source: Star-Telegram research