Struggling with Pollen on Delmarva

Portia Williams of Salisbury, Md. wipes pollen off of her car Thursday morning.

SALISBURY, Md. - It's that time of year again when trips to the car wash become at least a weekly ritual.

It seems sometimes, though, that just after washing the police come by to dust for fingerprints.

Some cars just look like they've been off-roading.

The culprit? Copious quantities of tree pollen.

"I hate the pollen. It came early this year and I just hate it," said Portia Williams of Salisbury as she wiped pollen off her car.

Salisbury just wrapped up the second warmest winter on record, and recent record-breaking heat has caused some tree species to begin releasing clouds of pollen several weeks earlier than usual.

"When it starts to warm up then they start cranking the sap up from the ground and get those flowers ready to go, and then on a nice warm day like today, they just let loose that pollen right into the air," said Dr. Curt Watkins, an allergist with Peninsula Allergy & Asthma in Salisbury.

That has meant that keeping your car clean has become a struggle.

"Sometimes when you're driving in the morning, you can't put your windows down because it blows right in your car," said Williams.

Perhaps more importantly, other than keeping your car clean, pollen allergies can be debilitating.

"Kids who have hay fever have lower performance in school because it affects your ability to concentrate," said Dr. Watkins. "It can be a significant problem."

Pharmacies have been busier than usual with customers looking for relief from allergy symptoms.

"We're definitely seeing an increase in over-the-counter antihistamine sales, as well as people looking for other solutions that go along with it," said Zack Sherr, pharmacist at Apple Discount Drugs in Fruitland, Md.

Pollen season will continue through the summer, when grasses will take over pollen production from trees.

Mary Barker of Delmar, Md. says she will not let the pollen stop her from enjoying the warm weather.

"I think it's going to be here when we're not here, so we just have to come out here and like I said, get a bucket and cloth and come out here and wipe it off yourself and keep skipping about in the sunshine," Barker said.

Sherr reminds folks that antihistamines and other allergy relief medication can often interfere with other medications you may be using, so when looking for allergy relief, be sure to talk to a doctor or pharmacist to see which medications will be right for you.