Is it a cold or are you allergic to Christmas?

It’s that time of year again! The annual expedition into the loft to retrieve the Christmas decorations.

We’re all prone to winter sniffles at this time of year, but if what feels like a regular cold is actually a seasonal allergy?

If your symptoms last longer than a week or seem to come and go depending on where you are, it might not be a cold.

What’s worse – your itchy, stuffy nose could be down to the tree.

Allergy to real pine tree pollen is rare, affecting just 7% of us. But according to Allergy UK, an estimated 35% of people in the UK suffer from an increase in hay-fever-like symptoms at Christmas, with both real and artificial trees causing the most problems. 

The symptoms are easily mistaken for a cold - runny nose, sneezing, and coughing, but also include itchy, watery eyes similar to hay fever.

These symptoms may be due to pine tree allergy but it’s more likely they’re triggered by other airborne allergens.

The pollen from real Christmas trees is inactive by the winter, but the tree may still be coated in other types of weed pollen, mould and fungal spores. When you bring it inside into a warm, dry environment these allergens are released into the air setting your nose and eyes streaming.

Artificial trees are a great alternative but they’re not always less problematic than real trees. One of the most common triggers for allergic rhinitis is dust mites, which can accumulate on your artificial tree. Typically stored in attics, sheds or garages – places that are prone to mould and dust build-up – artificial trees and decorations have a whole year to gather troublesome allergens.

If you think there’s more to that cold you seem to get every Christmas, here are our tips on reducing your exposure to seasonal allergens:

  • Gently vacuum artificial trees before you decorate them to remove dust and any mould build up
  • Wear a face mask when bringing decorations out of storage, super charge your allergen defences by adding a few drops of Breaze vapour oil to your mask.
  • Wipe larger decorations to remove dust
  • Use a garden hose to spray real trees before bringing them into the house to wash away any weed pollen or moulds that have gathered on the branches
  • If you think you may be sensitive, use gloves when decorating a real tree to reduce the risk of skin irritation
  • If you experience hay fever-like symptoms, use the usual treatments that work for you in the summer months will help ease your symptoms