Are Holiday Scents Making You Sick?

Holiday candles can add ambiance and intimacy to this time of year, but for some people, there’s a price to pay. Allergens and irritants in candles can stir up a host of symptoms:

  • Hay fever
  • Sinus infections
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Head pain (or lightheadedness)
  • Eczema, hives, etc.
  • Respiratory problems (coughing, wheezing)

Synthetic smells are made with blends of chemicals-sometimes hundreds of them per candle. Some people have sensitivities or allergies to these chemicals. In these cases, when the chemicals enter the nose or airways, they can irritate the tissues, causing miserable symptoms.

Christmas candle allergies

If you really love candles, though, there may be a way to enjoy their benefits without the drawbacks.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Choose soy candles instead of paraffin. (They are less likely to elicit miserable symptoms.)
  • Try candles that are flameless and scent-free. (Yup! They’re in stores!) That way, you still get the cozy, homey feel of a candle without the irritants. As additional perks, you can avoid the drippy wax and the fire risks, too.
  • Opt for candles that contain essential oils. They smell nice and are often easier on the body than synthetic fragrance items.
  • Choose single-scent candles. Note that some candles contain multiple scents, increasing your risk for reactions. By process of elimination, you may be able to find one or two one-scent candles that your body can tolerate.

About one in five people reports unfavorable reactions to scented items. For people prone to asthma, the number increases to about one in three. And while staying away from the occasional candle may be enough for some people, contact AllergyEasy if allergic reactions to smells or other allergens are consistently compromising your health. You may benefit from allergy treatment.

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.