The holidays may look a little different this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean decorating for Christmas is off the table.
In fact, holiday decor — including lights, ornaments, and tress — are selling out faster than normal this year, as many Americans are filling these dark days with as much seasonal cheer as possible.
For those who have opted to decorate with a Christmas tree this year, beware of the signs that you may be allergic to this holiday classic.
“The exact incidence isn’t known specifically to Christmas trees, but about 50 million Americans suffer from airborne allergies, so it is very common,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network, to Fox News.
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Read on for a look at the signs and symptoms of Christmas tree allergies.
Fox News: What are the signs someone is allergic to their Christmas tree?
Parikh: Frequent signs are nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, headache, coughing, wheezing and chest tightness. [Some] can also get itchy rashes on the skin, like eczema or hives.
Fox News: What are the causes of Christmas tree allergies?
Parikh: Real trees can collect various molds (one study showed almost 50 types) which can be an issue for those allergic. Artificial ones can collect dust, or you may be reactive to one of the products used to make artificial trees or a chemical spray that is used to treat either the real or artificial tree.
Fox News: What recommendations do you have for those who still want to put out a Christmas tree but are allergic?
Parikh: Before you bring your Christmas tree into your home, you should give it a good shake to help dislodge some of the dust, pollen and other allergens that may have settled in the branches (and don’t forget to wear a face mask).
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The tree can’t produce pollen while in your home but may have picked some up from neighboring trees that were pollinating at the time. (Pine trees usually only pollinate in spring.)
In addition to washing off allergens such as mold and pollen, hosing down your tree can also remove any lingering dirt and make sure that your tree is clean before you start decorating. To prevent mold growth, make sure that your tree is completely dry before you bring it indoors.
Fox News: Any other tips?
Parikh: A HEPA air purifier in the room where the tree is has been shown to significantly reduce mold spores. If, however, you are having breathing problems like cough wheeze or chest tightness please see a board-certified allergist or a pulmonologist as you could have an asthma attack, if untreated, and this can be dangerous.