Have you ever experienced "Christmas Tree Allergy"?

Christmas can be a difficult time for some allergies and for those who are sensitive to moulds, chemicals and electrostress. We make suggestions as to how you might help to reduce the triggers in your family over Christmas and enjoy a healthy and peaceful time.

Christmas trees and wreaths - moulds

Many people start decorating the house for Christmas at the beginning of December. Though this is fun and festive it can have implications for allergic people or anyone with a respiratory condition.

Discussions over Christmas tree allergy and articles in the Press have become more prevalent in recent years though in our family we experienced it many years ago. More is understood about it now and it seems that it is not so much the Christmas tree allergy itself (though people can be sensitive to pine) but the moulds that come in on the tree and then proliferate. Moulds love warmth and moisture. Real trees coming in from outside can be covered in mould spores which, given the right conditions, then begin to multiply. Within two to three weeks of bringing the tree in, the mould levels can be very high. Mould allergy could be one reason why visits to A and E and asthma symptoms rise over the Christmas period. There can be other reasons obviously! excitement, stress or viruses.

Synthetic trees may be less prone to moulds and causing problems though if they have been stored anywhere where they could have picked up mould and dust they should be thoroughly cleaned before installation. For some chemically sensitive people synthetic trees are not a good idea as they may off-gas chemicals, particularly when they are new.

Tips on reducing reactions to Christmas trees and wreaths.

  1. It is preferable to bring the tree in shortly before Christmas (instead of weeks earlier) so that the moulds will not have a chance to multiply. If you don't feel you can wait you can use the HomeCleanse allergy spray to lightly spray the tree once a week. This will denature any moulds present and not harm the tree or the people in the room! Spraying the air with AirCleanse will also help by neutralising any moulds or other allergens that have become airborne. This can be done with synthetic trees as well.
  2. Place the tree where it is not likely to be brushed against too much as this will release the mould spores into the air.
  3. Have an air purifier running that will trap, capture or denature any moulds that pass through it. Units particularly effective for this would be the Hextio, the Meaco 47x5 or a Winix air purifier.

Perfumes, Toiletries and Scented Products

Christmas is a time for giving toiletries - lovely face creams, aftershave lotions and sprays, perfumes, soaps and cosmetics. Bear in mind that most of these products contain synthetic preservatives and fragrances. As well as being a trigger for some asthmatics or chemically sensitive people, some of the ingredients in these products may have long term effects on one's health.  Consider giving organic toiletries and cosmetics, making sure that they really are organic and free from harmful ingredients.

Candles are a great gift at Christmas but scented candles can be a no no for sensitive people. Even normal candles are petrochemical based, so it's better to give beeswax candles that have a pleasant smell without the addition of fragrances.

Potpourri was originally made of naturally fragrant dried flowers and herbs. Certainly there are some organic packs or bowls of various dried plants available but some have now had synthetic fragrances added, which are strong smelling and best avoided as are lilies. Beautiful as they look, many people react to lilies. Though lilies are pollen free and may be suitable for people who suffer from pollens, the oriental lilies do have a very intense fragrance which can cause headaches and nausea. When giving flowers, consider the effects they may have and choose more benign plants.

Chemicals in gifts

Inflatable toys are often made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and can smell very strong when new. Not only do they need to be blown up while they are smelling but it takes a while for them to off-gas. Some are very pungent and can fill the room with the smell of PVC. This can be very distressing to chemically sensitive people and not very pleasant for the other members of the family.

New clothes and bedding

Most clothing and bedding have chemical treatments on them so it's always wise to wash before use. Jackets and outdoor clothing can be treated with waterproofing and other chemical treatments and may affect chemically sensitive people.

Pretty nightwear and bedding are always popular gifts but read the labels and go for natural fibres without easy care treatments on them.

Electrical

The sales of electronic devices soar before Christmas. Remember that if you are considering giving devices think carefully as to how they will be used. Children are particularly susceptible to the high fields coming from electronic gadgets. This is also true of a PlayStation. We offer some protective or harmonising products to reduce the potential harmful effects of high electromagnetic radiation but care must be still be taken especially with young children. The Wi-Fi on a device can be turned off and it can be put onto airplane mode if they want to watch a video. However, if it is streaming then it acts like a mobile phone and is constantly searching for a signal whilst giving off high electromagnetic fields.

We hope this blog has been useful to you and will give you some ideas as to how you might make your festive season a little healthier.

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Disclaimer: Information included in this blog post is intended for information purposes only and is not to be used as a substitute for consultation with a medical practitioner. Images not necessarily to scale.

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