AchooAllergy.com Blog
Pining for a pine: Allergy no-no?
Posted by Desirina on Friday, December 09, 2005
Q: I am considering getting a live Christmas tree, but I'm worried about my allergies. Is a Christmas tree safe for an allergy-friendly living room?

A:
Many people start to sniffle and wheeze around Christmas trees, giving them a bad holiday rap with allergy sufferers. Poor trees -- it's generally not the tree itself causing the allergies. Instead, it's what's on the tree. No, you're not allergic to well-meaning Aunt Margaret's hand-painted moose-slippers. Actually, tacky ornaments aside, Christmas trees also accumulate allergens like dust and mold spores.

Why not pollen? Most Christmas trees are scotch pines or Douglas firs, trees which don't pollinate in the winter. And evergreen pollens have a thick, waxy outer coating, which makes them unlikely to be a significant allergen.

But, mold is a frequent culprit. Many Christmas trees are cut several months beforehand, and then left out in the winter rain, an ideal breeding ground for mold. (See why you should feel sorry for them?)

It's not just live Christmas trees, though. Artificial trees have their own set of blues. Depending on how they are stored during the year, they can also be prone to collecting dust and mold. Dusty attics and damp basements are not good places for allergy sufferers, and the porous surface of an artificial tree can bring all those nasty allergens into the home along with holiday spirit.

So how can you enjoy a bright and cozy tree while staying sneeze and sniffle free?

  • If you use a live tree, shake it out thoroughly, and let it dry out for a few days before you bring it indoors.
  • If you use an artificial tree, make sure to dust and clean it thoroughly (outside!) before installing it in the house. For storage, make sure that it's kept clean and dry, preferably sealed in a plastic bag.


And don't forget, holiday decorating can cause all kinds of allergy flare-ups. Don't always blame it on the tree! Decorations stored in attics and basements can also be covered in dust, mold spores, or dust mite allergens. Wash your hands thoroughly after unpacking them, and clean them thoroughly before putting them up. Actually, forget washing your hands – make a non-allergic person do the dirty work. That's one holiday cloud of dust you deserve to keep your nose out of.

For more great tips on surviving holiday allergens, visit this page from the AAAAII.


A similar version of this article appeared in our December newsletter, the achoo! review. To subscribe to the achoo! review, visit our website at www.achooallergy.com.


1 Comment
On 12/10/2005 Rixhard wrote:
Say it's winter, I have no tree, but I sneeze like crazy everywhere. Is pollen still a valid excuse given the season?
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