Allergic to Your Christmas Tree?

The Christmas tree is the focal point of most homes during the holiday. We stash presents beneath it, light it up in the evenings and gather around it on Christmas morning. But if you’ve been experiencing hay fever ever since you stood up your holiday tree, you may need to change your approach to the Christmas décor staple.

Christmas Tree Allergy

(Pixabay / jill111)

A 2011 study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that real Christmas trees can carry mold spores that cause allergic rhinitis symptoms, including sneezing, wheezing, coughing, a runny or congested nose and itchy, watery eyes.

The solution? Before bringing your tree inside, try hosing it down, blowing off debris with an air compressor or shaking your tree. (Many vendors actually have tree-shaking machines on their lots to rid the tree of build-up.)

Real trees can also carry pollen. Pine pollens can be especially hard on your allergies, so consider purchasing an alternative such as a Leyland cypress tree which isn’t as likely to cause allergies.

Real trees aren’t the only culprit. If you don’t store your artificial tree properly, it could accumulate mold and dust throughout the year. Try spraying down your artificial tree with water before setting it up.

Another challenge that comes with artificial trees is that they are often made of PVC, which is prone to “off-gassing” and can stir up hay fever-like symptoms. A safer bet is a polyethylene tree. And if you want to do something completely out of the box, consider a plywood or recycled cardboard tree. These alternatives offer a chic, modern look for the holidays, and they won’t leave you feeling miserable.

If allergies are affecting your quality of life for more than a few months of the year, visit a sublingual immunotherapy clinic. Your doctor can order a turnkey allergy test program to gauge your reaction to the most prevalent allergens. If your test results merit treatment, your physician can prescribe sublingual immunotherapy or allergy shots. Both are highly effective at desensitizing your body to allergens in the environment, but sublingual immunotherapy (also known as oral allergy drops) are safer and can be administered at home. Allergy drops for kids are often a better choice than allergy shots because of their safety profile.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.