Live Christmas trees can cause an allergic reaction in certain individuals who may be sensitive to the mold and dust often found in branches and foliage. The number of mold spores continues to rise once the live tree is placed indoors, making the holidays nearly unbearable for those with particularly sensitive allergies.
Other known causes of Christmas tree allergies are tree sap, pollen, which is scattered in the air during the fall season, and terpenes, a compound that gives pine trees their characteristic scent. Chemicals used at Christmas tree farms may also cause skin and eye irritation.
Homeowners who want to keep their living spaces clean and free of allergens may easily opt for artificial Christmas trees, since there are extremely realistic artificial Christmas trees that have the same look and feel as a real tree.
However, like most decorations, whether on display or stored over an extended period, an artificial Christmas tree can also become the home of allergens, namely dust mites. Fortunately, that can be avoided altogether with proper care of your artificial Christmas tree.
There are several factors that can trigger an allergic attack related to Christmas trees:
Virtually invisible to the naked eye, molds thrive where there is moisture. Spores latch themselves to real Christmas trees due to the moisture build-up on their leaves and branches.Mold spores can also be found floating in open spaces and can be carried indoors by attaching themselves onto shoes and clothing.
These chemical compounds are known for giving pine trees their natural scent and can also cause irritation in some individuals. Terpenes are commonly used in home fragrances, solvents, and cleaning supplies, so be sure to double check the label before purchasing one of these products if you have tree-allergy sufferers in your home!
Dust mites are among the most persistent causes of allergies, no matter the season. These microscopic allergens accumulate in storage and become more cumbersome when the air is damp.
Pests can inhabit your live tree or artificial Christmas tree storage space and leave droppings that aggravate allergies.
An allergy does not act up the first time a person comes in contact with a specific trigger. The reaction usually occurs at a later time, as the immune system still has to develop a degree of sensitivity to the irritant before a person can fully become allergic to it. Antibodies are then developed once the body memorizes the components of the allergen in a process called sensitization. This may take days, months, or even years to complete.
Once a person develops an allergic reaction caused by a real or an artificial Christmas tree, he or she may experience one or several of the following symptoms:
Although most allergic reactions tend to be unpleasant, they are generally not life-threatening. If a person suffers from a severe allergic attack, seek medical attention immediately.
Like many other forms of irritation, Christmas tree-related allergies can be prevented through thoughtful preparation. Allergy sufferers who are especially sensitive to mold, pollen, and terpenes should typically avoid using fresh trees, boughs, and wreaths and consider switching to an artificial Christmas tree instead.
If you are susceptible to allergies but still would like a real Christmas tree instead of an artificial one, remember to thoroughly shake the live Christmas tree outdoors to eliminate the dust particles, pollen and other debris it may be carrying before bringing it indoors. Here are a few more steps you can take to help reduce any causes of irritation.
Having a Christmas tree allergy doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the season just like everybody else. By using our list of tips and tricks to properly clean and prepare your tree prior to bringing it into your home, you can still have a stylish and memorable Christmas celebration without the worry of extra sneezing or sniffles.