By Molly Martyn, MD
While the sight and smell of a live Christmas tree is part of the holiday season for many, trees can also trigger allergies. Common symptoms include sneezing, sniffling, itchy nose and eyes, and dry cough.
Pine, fir, and spruce allergies are relatively uncommon, but do exist. More frequently, people react to the dust and mold that live Christmas trees carry.
For children with pine/fir or mold allergies, a live indoor Christmas tree is not a good option. Instead, families may choose to decorate an outdoor tree or to buy an artificial Christmas tree.
Artificial trees should be wiped down with a damp cloth prior to use as they can accumulate dust and mold during storage. If your family decorates a live tree, give it a good shake outdoors prior to bringing it into your home to help dislodge dust and mold spores (some tree lots will do this for you). In drier climates, trees can be hosed down and allowed to dry prior to bringing them indoors, something harder to do in cold, snowy Minnesota.
If you are concerned that your child is experiencing allergy symptoms related to a Christmas tree, talk to their primary care provider. They can help discuss next steps in diagnosis and management.
For more information about winter and holiday-related allergies, the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology is a great resource.