Do you have a Christmas tree allergy?

Nobody enjoys a rash, even if it’s festive. Here’s how to cope with a Christmas tree allergy.

Updated

Decorating a Christmas tree with a fir tree allergy

Key steps

  1. If you suffer from Christmas tree allergy symptoms:
  2. Don’t get your tree too far in advance.
  3. Shake the tree down and dry it out before bringing it indoors.
  4. Wear gloves and long sleeves to decorate.
  5. If you use an artificial Christmas tree, make sure it’s well wrapped and stored somewhere dry when it’s not in use.

A Christmas tree can instantly make your home feel more festive, but in some cases it can also cause health problems. Some people develop hay fever symptoms; some people get a Christmas tree rash; some people, in extreme cases, can suffer from asthma attacks.

If you find that your Christmas tree is decorating you with rashes while you’re decorating it with baubles, here’s your guide to Christmas tree allergy symptoms.

Your Christmas tree allergy symptoms might actually be the fault of your Christmas decorations. A lot of us store decorations in cellars or attics, where they can accumulate dust or invisible mould spores. Try unpacking your decorations outdoors and cleaning them before you put them up.

What causes allergic reaction to Christmas tree?

Christmas tree allergy symptoms aren’t necessarily caused by an actual pine or fir tree allergy. Pollen often causes problems for people with plant allergies, but trees tend to pollinate in spring; your home isn’t going to be full of tree pollen at Christmas. You may be allergic to the tree’s sap or oils, but it’s entirely possible that the problem isn’t the tree at all.

If you don’t have a fir tree allergy, why is your fir tree giving you an allergic reaction? It’s usually the fault of other allergens that have been borne in on the tree. Christmas trees often carry dust or mould, and mould can multiply over time; the longer the tree is in your house, the worse the problem can get.

How to alleviate your Christmas tree allergy

The good news is that, as Christmas tree-related allergy symptoms usually aren’t caused by the tree itself, you may be able to tackle the problem without having to give up on Christmas trees.

  • Before you bring your tree inside, you can dislodge allergens by giving it a good shake or going over it with a leaf blower. You could also give it a thorough spray down with a hose, although you’ll need the tree to be completely dry before you bring it in.
  • Mould thrives in damp. If there’s no rain in the forecast, leave the tree out to dry for a few days before bringing it indoors, even if you haven’t hosed it down.
  • If you tend to suffer from a Christmas tree allergy rash, avoid touching the tree itself. Ask someone else to put it up and decorate it, or, if you can’t resist getting involved with the decoration, wear gloves and long sleeves.
  • Running an air purifier near the tree may help to reduce the allergens in the air.
  • While your Christmas tree is up, avoid activities that increase the level of damp in the room, such as hanging up clothes in there to dry. Consider relocating your clothes horse to another room during the festive season.
  • If your Christmas tree allergies are bad, but you’re determined not to give up on trees entirely, you could reduce the amount of time the tree stays in your home. Getting the tree fairly close to Christmas and then taking it down soon afterwards will mean that mould spores have less time to multiply.
  • There are antihistamines that can reduce allergy symptoms. Ask your doctor whether they would be appropriate for you.
  • You could switch to an artificial Christmas tree, but make sure it’s carefully stored in a dry environment. An artificial tree that’s left exposed for a year in a musty attic can easily accumulate dust and mould, and that’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

Most Christmas tree allergy troubles are annoying, but, fortunately, they also tend to be mild. If you find yourself having more serious symptoms – if you have trouble breathing, for example – contact a doctor as soon as possible.

For more advice on dealing with living Christmas trees, take a look at our guide to real Christmas tree care.    

Originally published