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Pollen buildup gets early start

Mild winter to blame for allergy rush, dirty cars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you have been outside and looked at your car, then you've probably seen all of the pollen on it.

It's everywhere, and if you have allergies, they may have been acting up lately as a result.

"My eyes itch, they water, I sneeze, a little tickle in the throat," said Michelle Smith, who suffers from severe allergies.

Claudio Lopez is dealing with the same thing.

"I just walk on out and, boom, the sneezing starts and everything else," Lopez said.

Allergy Dr. Sunil Joshi said the pollen is creating a problem much sooner this year compared to last year.

"We had a very mild winter. We only had four freezes so far this year," Joshi said. "Last year we had 27 between Christmas and Valentine's Day. And the freezes tend to keep the trees from pollenating. Unfortunately, it's been relatively mild, and that's allowed the trees to pollenate sooner."

That's why the yellow and green pollen is covering cars in the area.

"It's a frequent wash, and I've got to keep it clean, and right now it's not," Lopez said of his car.

The pollen on cars is from pine trees, but Joshi said it's the pollen you don't see that causes the biggest issues for people.

"This time of year when the pine pollen is out, there's also oak tree out, cedar, cypress, sweet gum tree," Joshi said. "All of those tree pollens are actually causing you more symptoms than the pine tree pollen is."

Joshi said the tree pollen season will likely last until May, so you can expect a dirty car until then. Rain would not only clean your car, but Joshi said it will help bad allergies as well.

"The things we don't like to see in our weather, which is really cold and rainy, are actually good for allergies," Joshi said.

Until then, keep your doors and windows closed when you can.

"If you do have to be outdoors for extended periods, like you're going to your kids soccer game or baseball game, or you're just outside at the park or the beach, you want to get in the habit of taking nighttime showers so you get all that pollen that's on your hair, your eyebrows, your face, off of your skin," Joshi said. "Put on a new pair of clothes before you go to bed so that you're not sleeping with pollen as well."

Smith said medicine helps, too.

"I've taken Zyrtec today, I've done a nose spray, I take Allegra at night," Smith said. "I've sneezed a couple times today."