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3 Christmas allergy triggers and how to avoid them

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1. Christmas trees and wreaths

Real trees and festive wreaths may be beautiful, but did you know they can be a trigger for more than one allergy?

If you, a member of your family or someone who’s going to be visiting you this Christmas is allergic to mould or pine needles, you may need to consider a synthetic tree!

The indoor environment at this time of year is very conducive to mould growth. The combination of cold, damp weather outdoors and central heating can lead to excess humidity indoors. If not kept under control using a dehumidifier, this can lead to a growth of mould spores.  

Many people may actually be allergic to mould, often without realising it. Mould allergy can cause symptoms like rhinitis (runny nose), fatigue, sneezing and joint pain. It has also been linked to anxiety, panic and depression. Moulds needn’t be visible to cause symptoms – many spores are invisible to the naked eye.

Asthma UK estimates that fungal spores can provoke symptoms in around 10% of allergy sufferers, and up to 4% of the population in total. People with asthma may find that their symptoms get worse when exposed to fungal spores.  

Indoor plants can be a source of mould growth, and Christmas trees, poinsettias and wreaths are no exception! As the leaves decay, allergen levels rise. Since many people put their trees up as early as November, by the time Christmas day rolls around, mould levels are likely to be high. There’s even a name for this – Christmas Tree Syndrome.

One American study found 53 different species of mould from 23 samples of pine needles and bark from indoor Christmas trees, with cladosporium spores suggested as one of the main offenders of allergy attack triggers.  

Moulds are not the only potential allergy triggers lurking in Christmas trees. Pine tree allergy can cause sufferers to experience contact dermatitis (a skin rash) and sneezing when coming into contact with real Christmas trees. This allergy is uncommon, but not unheard of. It goes without saying that if you or someone you know has this allergy, you may wish to buy an artificial tree instead!

Artificial trees do not harbour nearly as many allergens as real ones. However, they are prone to gathering dust and mildew when left untouched in a damp loft for the remainder of the year. We suggest storing your artificial tree, baubles, tinsel and other decorations, in watertight boxes. This will help to deter dust, dust mites and mould.

If having an artificial tree simply isn’t an option, then here’s a handy tip. Spray the tree itself with Bio-Life HomeCleanse spray – it denatures mould allergens. The air around the tree can be sprayed with AirCleanse spray to reduce levels of airborne allergens. These sprays contain no acaricides or insecticides, and are based around natural essential oils. 

An ideal solution to tackling airborne mould spores and VOCs at Christmas is the Radic8 air steriliser. Available in 3 models, these air purification units fill the air with ‘super-oxidants’ to break down impurities like allergens, VOCs and even bacteria and viruses into a harmless compound. Click here to learn more and save 10% until midnight on Thursday 17th December. 

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2. Festive fragrances

Scented candles

Many people like to fill their home with festive fragrances, choosing to do so using scented candles, plug-in air fresheners or reed diffusers. If you’re one of these people, read on before rushing to your nearest supermarket.

People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) can experience debilitating symptoms, such as skin rashes, fatigue, headaches and depression as a result of being exposed to chemicals. Synthetic fragrances are a very common MCS symptom trigger. At Christmas, this can be difficult to avoid. So if a family member or friend with MCS is coming to visit you this Christmas, look for unscented soy candles instead. Likewise, if you have MCS, inform friends or relatives you’re visiting over Christmas so they can help you to feel more comfortable. We actually recommend avoiding synthetic fragrances even if you don’t have MCS – perfumed products can emit a variety of VOCs that may be harmful to health.

Perfumed toiletries

Perfume gift sets, heavily fragranced creams, shower gels and bubble baths tend to be packed full of chemicals that you may not want to be putting on your skin. Cheap preservatives like parabens have been linked to contact dermatitis, for example. These synthetic products are also a big ‘no-no’ for people with MCS as the range of chemicals inside them can trigger uncomfortable symptoms. 

Thankfully there are a huge range of natural and mild toiletries available which are just as luxurious as their synthetic counterparts! For gifting or simply treating yourself, why not try going organic? We offer a range of beautiful and gentle toiletries which are mild on the skin, from top brands like Green People and Skin & Tonic

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3. Pets

Pets love to be part of the fun at Christmas! If you have a pet and are expecting visitors this festive season, don’t forget that your furry friend can be an allergy trigger.

Thankfully, levels of pet dander (the lightweight protein given off by pets that can cause allergic reactions) can be reduced by taking some simple measures. Keep floors swept and vacuumed (preferably using a HEPA vacuum), use allergy sprays to keep allergen levels down and treating your pet’s coat with PetalCleanse will help. You can remove airborne allergens with an air purifier; breathing purer air will benefit the whole family, even if they don’t have allergies.

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  • Asthma UK – Advice on moulds & fungi
  • Daily Mail – Could you be allergic to your Christmas tree?
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