Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Tree Allergies

Christmas is a beautiful time of year but for some, there is one thing that can ruin it and you wouldn't believe what it is: the Christmas tree. With well wrapped presents below and the beautiful assortments above, what would make a person not smile at the sight of it?

Answer: Allergies!

Believe it or not, there are many people who suffer from allergic reactions to their Christmas trees. This is known around the holidays as Christmas Tree Syndrome, which is caused by the mold that grows on trees. So technically, the trees themselves aren't the real problem. Its the mold!

Mold spores love damp evergreens, so they become best friends with the wreaths, boughs, and trees you may bring inside your home during the holiday season. Mold and their spores can increase the risk of wheezing and coughing for those with mold allergies.

Live trees, especially those on tree farms, spend years outdoors gathering various irritants such as herbicides and fertilizers. These irritants, along with air-born pollens and molds, stick to the trees needles and bark. Trees that are ready to be purchased are usually harvested well in advance of Christmas and stored in moist holding areas before they are beautifully staged in someones home.  This makes it worse for people with allergies because this gives mold spores time to develop and grow, which is exacerbated when they are in stored in cramped, damped areas.

Connecticut researchers found that the mold counts from a live Christmas tree increased six times the average level after only two weeks after the tree was brought indoors. When inside, the same spores that usually float freely outdoors, now float freely inside your home. Floating mold spores can trigger allergies, asthma, and sinus issues. Additionally, bringing your tree in and out of your home and adjusting the branch limbs while hanging decorations can release many of these allergens.

For those who suffer from mold allergies, it is important to limit the amount of time the Christmas tree is kept indoors. The recommended time that people with mold sensitivity keep a live tree in the house is no more than two weeks.

Many who suffer from mold allergies opt for an artificial tree. While most allergist generally consider artificial Christmas trees a great alternative to a live tree, they can still present allergy concerns. Although artificial trees can reduce the risk of mold exposure, they can still trigger allergic reactions if they have been improperly stored and are carrying significant amounts of dust.

If you cant resist not having a live Christmas tree, then there are some measures you should take. Make sure you wash the entire tree along with its branches before bringing it inside your home. Some nurseries that sell Christmas trees also provide washing services. You just have to ask.  After washing the tree, let it sufficiently dry before bringing it inside. Doing this will prevent the growth of any new mold. Since mold spores can accumulate the longer the tree stays in your house, make sure you removed the tree 1-2 days after Christmas. 

For those buying an artificial tree and plan on saving it, keep in mind that, by next year, it will probably be coated in dust. This can certainly trigger an allergic reaction so be sure to store your tree in a cool, dry place and securely wrap it when you are done.

Whether purchase a live or artificial tree, Hudson Allergy would like to wish everyone a happy and allergy-free holiday season. If you live in the New York City area and would like to speak with a doctor about your allergies, please contact Hudson Allergy at (212) 729.1283 or email us at

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc