Christmas trees are one of the most iconic symbols of the holiday season. But these evergreen beauties can also make some folks sneeze and wheeze this time of year. So what's going on? Does that mean all of these holiday revelers are allergic to Christmas trees? Not necessarily, according to experts.
While some folks are sensitive to pollen found in trees used for Christmas celebrations — including fir, spruce, and pine — it's far more likely that the main culprit is mold, according to Oak Street Medical. And chances are that there's a lot more mold on your tree than you think. A 2011 study found that a small sample of Christmas trees can carry up to 53 different types of mold — many of which are potential allergens that can trigger wheezing, coughing, and other hay fever symptoms. Furthermore, another 2007 study found that a Christmas tree could actually increase the number of mold spores in an apartment by about six times, according to Allergy Partners.
Luckily, there are a few simple solutions that can help keep your Christmas a sneeze-free one. Experts suggest checking with the Christmas tree nursery about tree-washing services before you purchase your evergreen or simply washing your tree yourself with a garden hose and letting it dry for a day before bringing it inside. Simply shaking the debris off of a tree as much as possible before bringing it into your home can be a big help as well. And another option might be using an air purifier for allergy relief while the tree is indoors.
These small changes can really make a big difference in minimizing the physical reactions that some people have to Christmas trees. Of course, a real Christmas tree might not be appropriate for everyone, especially people who have severe mold or pollen allergies. For these folks, an artificial Christmas tree might be the best option.
However, it's worth keeping in mind that an artificial tree could potentially cause allergies as well. According to the Christmas Tree Association, fake trees can build up quite a bit of dust if they aren't stored properly in sealed bags or boxes in a dry, cool space. They could even potentially rack up some mold spores of their own as well, if you're not careful. That's why it's always a good idea to dust off and clean an artificial tree before you set it up, even if you think it was packed up correctly.
Let's keep our Christmas trees as merry as the rest of our homes this year!