Reducing your stress levels and minimising potential allergy triggers can make a big difference to how you feel over the festive season. Studies have shown that although allergies are not caused by stress, experiencing stress can sometimes worsen allergy symptoms. Dr. Amber Patterson says “"Symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes can cause added stress for allergy sufferers, and may even be the root of stress for some. While alleviating stress won't cure allergies, it may help decrease episodes of intense symptoms." Taking a brisk walk outdoors, a short nap or a bath will bring down your stress levels. Don’t be afraid to delegate some of the tasks to family and friends, who will be more than happy to help – trying to ‘do it all’ will only result in unnecessary stress.
When it’s cold and damp outside and the central heating is on, the humid indoor conditions are a perfect breeding ground for mould. Many people are allergic to mould and can be quite unaware of it. Mould allergy can cause a whole host of unwanted symptoms such as running nose, sneezing, fatigue, anxiety and depression. The mould that you’re exposed to needn’t just be the visible black mould that can be found on walls and near windows. Moulds can be invisible to the naked eye, with spores populating the air we breathe in.
At Christmas, real trees and wreaths are the perfect environment for growing moulds. As the leaves decay, the allergen levels increase exponentially. So if you bring home a real tree weeks before Christmas, by the time the big day arrives the mould levels on the tree could be sky-high.
If you’re asthmatic or suffer with mould allergy, you might like to consider a synthetic tree. Likewise, if you have family members or friends visiting who suffer with these conditions, it’s always best to steer clear of seasonal greenery in the home. Be sure to store artificial trees and decorations in water-tight containers for the rest of the year, as these too can harbour mould and dust.
Minimise dust and dust mites
Dust mite allergy is more common than you may think. Up to 1.2 billion people could have some form of allergy to dust mite droppings.
When the air gets damp indoors during winter time, dust mites thrive. Their droppings contain an allergen and cause unpleasant symptoms in those who react to them. People who suffer from dust mite allergy can experience symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, rhinitis, headaches and even skin conditions such as eczema. Dust mites are also well-known asthma triggers. If you, your friends or family suffer from this allergy, then it may be wise to invest in an air purifier, dust mite proof bedding and a dehumidifier to keep home humidity levels in check. If you’re staying with friends or family this Christmas or at a hotel, it may be a good idea to bring your own dust mite proof pillow or barrier case to avoid any symptom flare-ups. The Travel Allergy Pack of handy sprays also helps to keep you symptom-free whilst away from home.
Manage pet dander
If your family pet likes snuggling up in front of the fire and getting involved in all the festivities, remember that pet dander can cause allergic reactions. Pets are indoors more during the winter, and the feather-light allergenic protein in pet dander can be found everywhere from on clothing to soft furnishings. If you’ve got family members visiting with pet allergies, or if you suffer from them yourself, then some simple steps can help make you more comfortable. Keeping floors swept and vaccummed, treating your pet’s coat with PetalCleanse and using allergy sprays may help keep symptoms at bay.
Remember that asthmatics and those with chemical sensitivity can experience discomfort, and even dangerous reactions, from the use of air fresheners and home fragrances. If one of these conditions affects you, it may be wise to inform any friends or relatives you'll be visiting over Christmas. Similarly, if you're considering giving perfumes or aerosol body sprays as a gift, be aware that they can trigger symptoms in the asthmatic and chemically sensitive. There are plenty of natural or organic alternatives to consider that may be more gentle.
Watch what you eat
If you have a known food allergy, it goes without saying that you should communicate this to your host in advance of Christmas dinner so they can make arrangements for alternatives. It is imperative to check ingredients thoroughly when eating at restaurants, and whenever you yourself haven’t prepared the food. If you suspect you may have a food intolerance, it may be advisable to see a specialist in advance of the party season, so they can help reduce the likelihood of you having an uncomfortable reaction to the rich seasonal food on offer. Likewise, if you have a severe food allergy, always seek your doctor’s advice on managing this during the festive season.
Do you have friends or family members that are difficult to buy for due to their allergies? Or do you want to give useful, thoughtful gifts this Christmas that will improve your loved ones' well-being? Browse our handy gift guide here (opens as a PDF) or visit our Christmas Gift Ideas page.