Being allergic to a Christmas tree – often called the Christmas tree syndrome - is a condition that causes wheezing, sneezing, coughing, sore eyes, and potentially serious asthma attacks.
Real Christmas trees like the Cypress and the ever-popular Pine can collect a high amount of pollen from other plants before they are cut down. This can trigger asthma and hay fever symptoms once you bring them home, especially if you put them up indoors.
Artificial trees can also cause asthma and allergy symptoms as they accumulate dust, dust mites and even mould in storage.
With a bit of preparation, you can limit your exposure to the asthma and allergy triggers hiding in your Christmas tree. Follow these tips to help keep your festive season symptom-free:
Live Christmas tree in your home
- Hose down your live tree before you bring it into the house. This will help to wash off the allergens.
- If you notice increased asthma or allergy symptoms, move your tree outside.
Artificial Christmas tree in your home
- Give your artificial tree a good shake outdoors, before putting it up inside.
- Vacuum your artificial tree and decorations as you get them out of the box, unpacking them outside if possible.
- Wipe down your artificial tree, wreaths, garlands and ornaments with a damp cloth to remove the dust.
- When you pack the tree and decorations away, use airtight plastic bags and sealed boxes so they're less likely to collect dust.
If your Christmas trees triggers your asthma:
- Follow the personal written asthma action plan that you have developed with your doctor
- If you don't have an action plan, take 4 separate puffs of a blue/grey reliever
- If the symptoms aren't going away or are getting worse, follow the steps in First Aid for Asthma
When you’re out celebrating during the festive season, make sure you have your medication with you and take it as advised by your doctor.