Sneezin’ around the Christmas tree

By Staff Writer • Published: December 2nd, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

O’ Christmas tree, O’ Christmas tree… how sneezy you make me.

The scent of an evergreen has been known to inspire even the most Scrooge-like among us to deck the halls and rock around the Christmas tree. But for some folks, the reaction to a live Christmas tree is less “Ahh!” and more “Achoo!”

While the most common types of live Christmas trees don’t produce allergy-inducing pollen in the winter, allergists say almost any live tree can bring on a sneezing fit for folks allergic to mold.

About fifteen percent of people are allergic to mold, and according to a 2007 study, mold levels seem to spike in rooms where live Christmas trees on display. Trees decay after they are chopped down and are often stored in moist locales before being sold.

But mold may not be the only reason an allergy sufferer reaches for a hankie. During the rest of the year, ornaments and garlands collect dust and other indoor allergens, as do artificial trees. And although the most popular Christmas tree varieties … Douglas Fir and Scotch pine … should be pollen-free for the holidays, some evergreens release pollen during the winter months.

So what’s an allergy-prone guy or gal to do? If you must have a live tree, experts advise taking both types of trees … live and artificial … outside for a good shake, or even using a blower to remove allergens from the needles before decorating them.

The next step? Breathe in and say “Ahh!”