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.
The Safer Choice: Artificial Christmas Trees
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.
Common Causes of Christmas Tree-Related Allergies
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. Mold spores can also be found floating in open spaces and can be carried indoors by attaching themselves onto shoes and clothing.
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!
Pests can inhabit your live tree or artificial Christmas tree storage space and leave droppings that aggravate allergies.
Symptoms of Holiday-Related 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 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 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:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Dark circles under the eyes
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.
How to Prevent Holiday Allergies
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.
- A leaf blower easily removes pollen from your real Christmas tree. Remember to wear a surgical mask to prevent yourself from inhaling loose particles in the air.
- Before bringing your live tree inside your home, thoroughly hose it down and leave it out under the sun to dry. You can also use a leaf blower to make sure that every part of the tree is dry, since mold often thrives in damp spots.
- Another way to eliminate mold is by spraying the fresh foliage with a mixture of water and a small amount of bleach. The bleach-water solution kills growing mold spores while washing away any leftover grime. It will not harm the tree. However, avoid taking this step if you have pets in your home because they may accidentally ingest this solution by gnawing on the tree.
- Mold accumulates the longer your live tree stays inside your home. Consider taking it out immediately once Christmas Day is over.
- Lessen the scent of terpenes from a live tree by spraying a bleach and water solution on the foliage and branches. Make sure to use gloves when handling and setting up your live tree to avoid coming into contact with terpenes..
Dust Mites & Insect Droppings
- For artificial Christmas trees, after the holiday season, store your tree properly in a dry, cool space. Placing the tree sections in a box, tree storage bag, or sealed plastic bags will keep dust from accumulating on your tree while it is in storage.
- Regularly check your artificial tree by taking it out of storage every 4 to 6 months to make sure that insects or rodents have not found a way to break through storage barriers.
- To keep the foliage clean and dust-free and maintain the quality of the color and texture, simply wipe the needles and branches with a soft, dry cloth before you decorate.
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.