‘Tis the Sneez’n

When most people think of allergy season, they typically think of Spring or Fall. However, the winter holiday season has its own unique share of allergy and asthma triggers that may surprise you. Some holiday related things are harmless, but others can steal your fun like a Grinch.

Can you guess which of the items below require caution because they could trigger allergy or asthma symptoms and which are safe? Read the answers that follow to see how well you did.

  • Dinner at the In-law’s
  • Real Christmas Trees
  • Artificial Christmas Trees
  • Yard Decorations
  • Table Settings
  • Visiting with Friends & Relatives
  • Mistletoe

At Bluegrass Allergy Care, we have been helping busy families in the Bluegrass manage their allergies and asthma for over 20 years. We hope these tips will help everyone to have an allergy and asthma safe holiday season.


Dinner at the In-law’s (allergy/asthma caution)

During the holidays, many will enjoy a nice meal at someone else’s home. For those with food allergies, this can be an especially challenging situation. Some foods have obvious ingredients (I’m looking at you eggnog) but for many foods it can be impossible to tell.  Be sure to ask about the ingredients used, and remember that even if a food does not contain an allergen, it could have gotten cross-contaminated from foods that do.

Real Christmas Trees (allergy/asthma caution)

While few people are allergic to the pine tree itself, some may have adverse reactions to the scent these trees give off. A more common occurrence is that live trees can contain mold spores which trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. To reduce the risk of mold on a live tree it must be thoroughly dry.

Artificial Christmas Trees (allergy/asthma caution)

Artificial trees themselves are usually not a risk for triggering allergies or asthma symptoms. Although, after being stored all year in an attic, garage, or basement, artificial trees can potentially collect large amounts of dust or mold spores.  Be sure to thoroughly clean and dry your tree according to the manufacturer’s specifications before bringing it into the house.

Yard Decorations (safe)

While yard decorations could accumulate dust or mold spores while in storage, they are usually not a cause of concern since people typically don’t come into contact with them regularly.

Table Settings (allergy/asthma caution)

Festive holiday table decorations may include potpourri, candles, or other decorative items with natural and artificial and fragrances. People with fragrance allergies may be more susceptible to specific natural fragrances, although both natural and artificial fragrances can potentially irritate the eyes, nose, throat or lungs.

Visiting with Friends & Relatives (allergy/asthma caution)

Many holiday activities include visiting the home of a friend or relative. For those with indoor allergies, going into any new environment introduces the possibility of exposure to higher levels of dust, mold spores or pet dander than they would encounter at their own home.  If you take an antihistamine for your indoor allergy symptoms, you may benefit from taking one before you pay your friends or family a visit.

Mistletoe (safe)

While some people may have an allergic reaction to mistletoe when they come into contact with it, as a holiday decoration it is generally safe.  Most holiday decorations use artificial mistletoe, and it is traditionally hung overhead, which makes it unlikely that many people would actually touch it.

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