The Sneeze

Christmas Tree Syndrome

December 7, 2021

Written By:

Summit Shah, MD

Christmas Tree Syndrome

This year, as many families start putting up holiday decorations such as Christmas trees and ornaments throughout the house, they may notice their allergies getting worse. You may find yourself suffering from a runny nose, sneezing, headaches and fatigue. More than likely, you are suffering from a common cold but you should also be aware of Christmas tree syndrome.

Christmas tree syndrome is not a true allergy to the tree itself but to molds that are commonly found on live Christmas trees. Mold spores need a food source and a damp environment to grow in which are common around live Christmas tree farms. Studies have shown that over 50 types of molds can exist on Christmas tree samples. Most of these samples were types of leaf mold. When these trees are brought indoors into a warm environment with central heating, it can cause mold spores to grow and spread through the house.

Some tips for minimizing the likelihood of Christmas tree syndrome include:

  • Shake off the tree. Ask if the Christmas tree farm has a mechanical tree shaker before removing it from the lot.
  • Wipe down the trunk with a warm water/bleach solution.
  • Make sure to allow the tree to completely dry before decorating it in your house.

Artificial trees can also harbor dust, pet dander and mold as well, particularly if not stored properly from the previous year. If you are still experiencing persistent symptoms of allergies around the holidays and still not improving, please consult an allergist at Premier Allergy and Asthma to see if allergy testing may be beneficial.