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Christmas Tree Syndrome(?)

  • Itchy, red bumps when you string lights on your real Christmas tree.
  • A stuffy nose when you bring pine inside your home in December.
  • More frequent use of an asthma inhaler over the holidays.

Sound familiar?

Let’s break down what might aggravate your allergies or asthma and outline a plan to handle those irritants so you hopefully can continue to enjoy fresh evergreen.

The causes of Christmas tree allergies might surprise you.

  • It turns out that the pine pollen, a common allergen other times of the year, is not the main irritant lurking in your fresh-cut tree.
  • Mold growing on the Christmas tree is most likely to blame for watery eyes, runny noses or trouble breathing.
  • Dust on branches and some lingering pollen from the pine or other plants could contribute to a lesser extent.

And what’s behind skin breakouts that hit some people after they carry a fresh tree or hang ornaments on it?

People with rashes might be allergic to a component of the Christmas tree’s sap. The irritating material that comes from the sticky sap is called colophony or rosin, and it can cause a rash similar to one from poison ivy, developing in the day or two after touching the tree.

Additionally, some people with sensitive skin could get red, itchy spots simply from needles poking the skin, similar to how some of us are more prone to irritation from scratchy sweaters.

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