Are You Allergic to Your Christmas Tree?

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The holiday season means family gatherings, food, and holiday decor, but some unwelcome guests may come along with it: allergies. If you have watery eyes, runny nose, and/or coughing, you may be experiencing allergies known as “Christmas Tree Syndrome”.


Below, we will take a look at the possible reasons why some people experience allergies around Christmas decorations and what you can do to breathe easier this holiday season.



Why do people experience allergies around Christmas decorations?


The biggest allergy trigger during Christmas is mold. It floats in the air like pollen, and your exposure to it may increase during the holidays because a live Christmas tree can be a significant source of mold spores. The mold and mildew in decaying leaves only add to the irritation as you track them inside on shoes and clothes.


Another common trigger is tree sap. Christmas tree sap contains a material called colophony, also known as rosin, which can cause a poison ivy-like rash in sensitive individuals. This rash will typically start to appear one or two days after first touching the tree.



What can you do to breathe easier this Christmas season?


According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are about 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees sold every year. If you are concerned that you or your family might be affected by the trees, try to:


Keep the Christmas tree clean. Hose down your real tree before you bring it inside and let it dry for a few days in a garage or outside if it is warm enough, so that you can knock off mold and dust. To prevent mold growth, make sure that your tree is completely dry before you bring it indoors.


Protect your skin. While carrying the tree, you can wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid needle pricks and sap. Change clothes when you’re done. If you suffer from Christmas tree allergies, it is best to ask a friend or family member to help you prepare the tree before you bring it in.



Replace the real tree. An artificial tree is the safest choice, especially for those living with allergies.


If you are afraid of getting Christmas Tree Syndrome, you may need nasal washes to clear sinuses and allergy drops for eyes. If such remedies aren’t cutting through your allergies, you can go to a doctor and consider further treatments.

1 Answer

These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.
We traditionally brought our artificial Christmas tree in for decorating the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was stored in the old unattached garage. A few days later my older son would have allergy symptoms which typically escalated to a sinus infection. I agree with the mold theory and throw in my own dust theory. When my son was later tested for allergens, he was not allergic to molds, but significantly reactive to dust mites. Just a thought.