Christmas tree syndrome: How to prevent the allergy to festive trees – are you at risk?
As Christmas decorations and trees start to come out ahead of this year’s festive season, you may be wondering why you’ve suddenly developed an itchy rash or watery eyes.
Your allergy symptoms may be caused by your Christmas tree, a doctor has warned.
The condition is known as ‘Christmas tree syndrome’, and it affects more people than you may think, warned allergist-immunologist, Dr Kara Wada.
You could avoid the unwanted symptoms of Christmas tree syndrome by giving your tree a ‘shower’ ahead of decoration, she said.
Washing down your tree will help to get rid of mould, pollen and dirt – common causes of allergic reactions.
It could also help to let the tree dry off for a few days in a garage, or outside, said Wada.
Alternatively, if you just can’t wait that long to start decorating your tree, consider wearing long clothing to protect yourself.
“People who notice their allergies worsening this time of year might experience what’s sometimes called Christmas tree syndrome, or Christmas tree dermatitis if you get the rash,” said Wada, from The Ohio State University.
“Wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid needle pricks and sap. Change clothes when you’re done.
“Cardboard boxes and open bags stuffed with strands of lights allow dust to accumulate. Switch to storage containers that keep out dust mites.
“I hesitate to recommend buying air purifiers because of the uncertainty of their benefits for the price.
“However, if you own one, put it in the room with your Christmas tree to see if that makes a difference.”
If you’re still having symptoms of Christmas tree syndrome, try using a nasal wash to clear your sinuses and reduce inflammation.
A pharmacist could advise you on the best over-the-counter allergy medication for eyes and runny noses.
If you develop a rash from your Christmas tree, apply hydrocortisone cream to your skin.
Christmas tree syndrome could be caused by dust or pollen, so you may still be at risk of the condition if you usually get a fake tree.
More than 50 different types of mould could be growing on your Christmas tree, researchers have revealed.
But, it could also be caused by the trees’ sticky sap, which can lead to a rash similar to poison ivy.
Some people with sensitive skin could get red, itchy spots from the needles poking their skin, said Wada.
If you suffer from Christmas tree syndrome, and treatments aren’t relieving symptoms, it may be best to take down your tree slightly earlier this year, she said.