Common Allergies in California: When to Expect the Worst Symptoms

The Golden State really has it all: breathtaking coastlines, pristine beaches, beautiful mountain ranges, family-friendly attractions, and a wide variety of cuisines for all the foodies out there. California is also no stranger to allergy season – a couple of them, in fact! Up and down the state, residents and visitors alike experience year-round allergies just like in most warm-weather states. If you are a California resident or planning a visit and wondering about your region’s allergens, their seasons, common symptoms, and more, think of this as your guide! We’ll be traveling all throughout California (in this article!) to give you a more detailed look at when various parts of the state are the most allergy-prone and when, how you may feel as a result, pollen counts (which is the quantity of pollen particles floating in the air), and much more.

First, let’s start with a big-picture look at California’s allergy season.

When Is Allergy Season in California?

While allergies are a nuisance year-round for those affected, there are two main allergy season spikes in California: one in the spring and one in the fall. Spring allergy season begins at the end of January and fall allergy season can run through the end of October. November through January is when allergy sufferers may find the most relief from their symptoms. However, allergies don’t necessarily take an off-season and, as we will learn, this varies by region. Those who live closer to a coastline may find their allergy symptoms are not as severe as someone who may live in an area further inland, and winter may offer a little more relief than spring.

Here is a quick synopsis of which regions of California are most affected by allergies each season.


During the spring, Northern and Southern Californians are typically hit the hardest by springtime tree allergies. Birch, elm, cedar, cypress, pine, and olive trees are common triggers in the northern part of the state. Down south, ash, oak, sycamore, walnut, and mulberry can be the most triggering.


Summer is grass allergy season in California. Those in both the northern and southern regions may be triggered by bluegrass and ryegrass.


Fall allergy season is when weed allergies take hold. Ragweed and sagebrush are the biggest offenders in Northern California while Sagebrush, Pigweed, and Russian Thistle give people the most trouble.


Finally, winter. This is the season when many people can breathe a little easier. Most Californians find relief during the winter, however indoor allergens like pet dander, dust, and mold can cause trouble while we’re indoors more often.

Common symptoms throughout the year can and will vary from person to person, but many may experience:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Hives

Now, let’s zoom in a little bit to a few popular cities in California to take a closer look at when they are the most affected by allergy season, signs and symptoms, pollen counts, and more.

Allergies in the Central Valley: Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Visalia, Reedley, Hanford, Merced

When it comes to allergies, the Central Valley is the center of it in the springtime. As beautiful flowers bloom, so do allergic reactions to oak, maple willow, cypress, and juniper. In the fall, those who are particularly sensitive to saltbush, sagebrush, amaranth, and wormwood will experience more symptoms than usual. These can include congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, and watery eyes. Low to medium pollen counts in these areas can range from 2.5-4.8 and medium pollen counts from 4.9-7.2.

Allergies in Northern California: Santa Rosa, Redding, Eureka

As we know, Northern California can feel the effects of allergies year-round, but spring is typically the worst for these cities. March through June is when allergy sufferers can expect heightened symptoms such as itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, congestion, and a runny nose. As the winds pick up into the spring season, these areas can expect to see higher pollen counts somewhere in the 4.9-7.2 range. During these times, especially for those who know they are prone to allergies, it’s best to plan your outdoor activities around the weather!

Allergies in the San Francisco Bay Area

Luckily, San Francisco sits right on the water which means residents and visitors can find some relief from allergies, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune – especially as spring rolls into summer. Beginning in June, San Francisco experiences a spike in summer weed pollen which can cause uncomfortable symptoms like congestion, runny nose, and itchy eyes. During peak allergy seasons, a medium to high pollen count reading can range from 7.3-9.6.

Allergies in the Desert: Palm Springs, Lancaster, Joshua Tree

Don’t be fooled: allergy season still exists in the California desert regions! Beginning in late spring, areas such as Joshua Tree and Palm Springs can expect an uptick in allergens like willow, walnut, maple, oak, and ash. In early summer, Bermuda, bent, timothy, and orchard grasses typically affect allergy sufferers the most. Like many other allergens, common symptoms include congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Medium pollen counts in these areas can range from 4.9-7.2 and during medium-high seasons, counts can reach up to 9.6.

Allergies Near Los Angeles

Let’s head down south to Los Angeles where allergies are really the star of the show in the beginning of spring and heading into fall. Some of the more common triggers in the area are sagebrush, cypress, bluegrass, ragweed, willow, oak, and maple. Common symptoms you may experience during these months are stuffy nose, itchy eyes, coughing, headaches, and sneezing. Medium to high pollen counts range from 4.9-7.2 and are typically the highest in the mornings and afternoons. Be sure to limit your exposure!

Allergies Near San Diego

And finally, San Diego! This coastal city offers a bit more relief to our allergy sufferers due to its coastal location and climate, but if you are a bit more sensitive, summer, spring, and fall allergens can trigger reactions. Grasses like Bermuda, bent, timothy, and orchard are common triggers as well as tree varieties like willow, maple, oak, walnut, and ash. If your allergies are aggravated, you will typically experience symptoms like coughing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and sneezing. Again, allergies are usually worse right in the morning when pollen counts are at their peak, so be sure to plan your days when exposure is lowest.

Visit Your Allergist

The best thing you can do when you are experiencing allergy symptoms is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Buddiga. As a leading allergy, asthma, and immunology expert in Central California, Dr. Buddiga uses his decades of experience to help patients get to the bottom of their symptoms through comprehensive testing and by creating customized treatment plans to manage day-to-day symptoms.

It’s time for you to breathe a little easier. Schedule an appointment for yourself or a family member with Dr. Praveen Buddiga today.

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