Christmas Tree Allergies: Should You Choose a Real Tree or a Fake Tree?

Managing allergy symptoms can be challenging during the holiday season, especially if being near a Christmas tree makes you sneeze. It does not help that Christmas trees are everywhere during the holidays. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the beauty of a Christmas and manage your allergy symptoms.

Live vs. Artificial Christmas Trees

It is not the trees themselves that can trigger allergy flare-ups. It is the mold that forms on them. According to the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA), real Christmas trees go from the outdoors to being harvested and stored in damp holding areas, where they stay for weeks (or maybe months) before Christmas. Mold thrives in moisture.

By the time you get a tree, it is covered with mold spores that float in the air in your home. These spores can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms or irritate sensitive sinuses.

Real Christmas trees are not the best choice if you are extremely allergic or sensitive to mold. Artificial Christmas trees are less likely to trigger allergy flare-ups. You still have to exercise the same caution in handling them as you would real trees. Fake trees can get damp and grow mold. They can also accumulate dust, another common allergen.

How to Live With Your Christmas Tree–and Your Allergies

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Hose the tree down (both real and artificial trees) and let it thoroughly dry outside before bringing it inside. Wear gloves to protect your skin from dust and mold from the tree. (You cannot always be sure how properly an artificial tree was stored before you bought it.)
  • ACTA recommends keeping a real Christmas tree in your home no longer than a week if you are really allergen-sensitive.
  • Wipe glass, metal and plastic ornaments with a soft dust cloth. Wash fabric holiday decorations in hot, soapy water.
  • Store artificial trees in tightly sealed plastic cartons and in a cool, dry area. If you opt to use cardboard cartons, be extra careful to keep the room where they are stored cool and dry. Mold can grow even in a cardboard box if it is kept in an attic or basement that gets damp and musty.
  • Place an air purifier in the room with your Christmas tree to keep the air clean and free of dust, mold, pollen and other airborne allergens.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to enjoy your Christmas tree along with everyone else in your home- without having to grab some tissues.

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