What is Christmas Tree Syndrome and how can it be treated?

Christmas trees are an integral part of the festive season. Not only do they symbolise Christmas, make our homes look and feel cheery but decorating them with your loved ones is the best way to get into the magical spirit.

However, for some of us, that isn’t always the case. In fact, Christmas trees can have quite the opposite effect on those who suffer with the dreaded disease that is Christmas Tree Syndrome.

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Never heard of it before? Well it’s time you did – especially if you’ve been feeling particularly sneezy and having cold-like symptoms ever since putting up your tree. It’s hard to accept, but what you think is just a seasonal flu could actually be an allergy to your beloved Christmas Tree.

So, to help you figure it out, we’ve teamed up with Dr Clare Morrison of MedExpress, to tell you everything you need to know about Christmas Tree Syndrome…

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What is Christmas Tree Syndrome?

Christmas Tree syndrome is an allergy to real Christmas trees, caused by the mould spores that collect on them.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include wheezing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, coughing, and skin rashes.

How common is Christmas Tree Syndrome?

It is more common than you may think, affecting around a third of people exposed to Christmas trees, and can affect all age groups, including young children. It is most common in those who are prone to allergies already, including hay fever and asthma sufferers.

Is it dangerous?

It’s generally more of a nuisance than a danger, but could be serious in those susceptible to asthma, potentially triggering an attack of wheeze, tight chest and breathing difficulties.

What is the best way to treat Christmas Tree Syndrome?

There are a number of steps you can take to minimise the risk of Christmas Tree Syndrome. Firstly consider not getting a real tree at all, but using an artificial one instead. If you must use a real tree, limit the time it’s in the house, so it gathers less mould spores. Before bringing it inside, give the tree a good shake, and put it in a cooler part of the house, as warmth encourages more mould spores to form. When decorating the tree, wear gloves and long sleeves if necessary.

If you develop symptoms of Christmas tree allergy, take antihistamines, and keep away from the tree. If you’re concerned, always consult a health professional.