A spike in pollen, mould and extreme La Ni?a weather conditions are causing an increase in skin flare-ups for millions of Aussies with allergies, asthma, eczema, and hayfever.
Children, like nine-month-old Isaiah Piedade, are suffering through the worst pollen season on record, as researchers confirm 'alarming' pollen levels in Brisbane and Canberra - with spikes also in Sydney, Adelaide and parts of Tasmania.
Little Isaiah, who suffers from allergies and eczema, had a terrible flare-up when the family visited Sydney and Adelaide over Easter. "Within 24 hours of arriving in Sydney his face and body broke out in massive red patches and welts," mum Shabnam Shabir tells 9Honey Parenting. "He was itching and really upset. He couldn't sleep and was clawing at his skin. It was really distressing."
"It got so bad I had to put socks on his hands and all the way up his legs to stop him scratching. He seemed to itch more at night and was covered in it ¨C all down his face, legs, belly and arms.
"He was in agony - screaming in pain. Some mornings his bed sheets were even covered in blood. At one point I thought we'd have to take him to hospital."
According to experts, Adelaide's pollen levels are up to twice the level of the previous three years while Melbourne's count is slightly above average. Brisbane's grass pollen levels have soared to 3.8 times the previous five-year average while Canberra has recorded the highest grass pollen levels in 10 years.
Sydney has had siginificantly higher levels than the previous two years while Tasmania has experienced its second-highest season on record.
"Over the last few months, we've been seeing increased rainfall and higher temperatures, which causes the growth of grass and therefore higher concentrations of pollen," explains CEO of Asthma Australia, Michele Goldman.
"It's quite alarming that the rate of change in grass pollen levels is so severe," adds Professor Janet Davies of Queensland University of Technology's School of Health.
Social worker Shabnam, 37, who lives in Darwin, says doctors in Sydney and Adelaide said they've had more people than ever presenting with allergies and skin issues caused by the change in weather and of course, the mould.
Shabnam also says that the "only thing" that has helped calm Isaiah's skin is an over-the-counter cream from MooGoo.
"It was recommended to me by a pharmacist and the results were amazing," says Shabna. "Within minutes of applying it the redness subsided and his skin remained soft, rather than rough, angry and scaly. It's a godsend.
"Within a week everything was healing. I'm using it on my four-year-old daughter, Zahra, now too as she has eczema and also food allergies."
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Melody Livingstone, CEO of MooGoo, says the business has been inundated over the last few weeks as people with allergies, sensitive skin and conditions like eczema and psoriasis are struggling due to the weather.
Australia has one of the highest incidences of eczema in the world ¨C with one in four children developing the disease before the age of two.
"Dermatologists is only getting worse, 50 years ago, only one in 10 Australian children suffered from it," says Ms Livingstone. "It's a complex disease, which can develop for a number of reasons, the main ones being climate, lifestyle, genetics and hygiene."
Pollen season in temperate climate regions is traditionally from September to December, but ongoing rainfall and grass growth can extend the period of high pollen in the air through autumn.