Some 35% of people in the UK suffer from an increase of hay fever-like symptoms at Christmas, with real trees causing most problems, according to a report in the Huffington Post.
Symptoms include an itchy nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing and, for asthma sufferers, an acute flare of wheezing and shortness of breath.
“For instance, pollen grains can collect in the bark of a real tree, not from the pine tree itself, but from other plants,” the report says. “This can then be released into the air when the tree is brought indoors, and cause hayfever symptoms in sufferers. The condition is known as Christmas Tree Syndrome.”
Live Christmas trees can also collect mould on their trunks and needles, and trees that have been stored for a while will have collected more mould as well as dust. Moulds release spores, which can cause allergic reactions, causing symptoms such as rhinitis.
And it’s not just real trees that can be a problem. The report also said that artificial trees can trigger the sneezes: “If you have stored your tree since last year, it will have accumulated a layer of dust which will be dispersed when it is disturbed.”
Putting up the tree as late as possible will help minimise the risk, whilst an air purifier may also help. Or sufferers can apply a pollen barrier balm around their nostrils to help stop the allergens getting up the nose, the report concludes