Are You Allergic to Your Christmas Tree?

Christmas Tree Allergy: Symptoms, Tips & Treatment

Do you suspect a Christmas tree allergy? See Dr. Cajigal, a board-certified allergist and immunologist, in St. Louis to learn about Christmas tree allergy symptoms, treatment options, and tips like avoiding pine trees and non-allergenic Christmas tree options.

“The whole staff are friendly and helpful. Dr. Cajigal was friendly, professional, and informative, and took the time to explain the tests and what was going on with my allergies. She is so knowledgeable and really cared about how I was feeling. I would highly recommend this practice if you suffer from allergies and asthma.”

– Sue D, July 2020

Christmas Tree Allergy Doctor Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy in St. Louis, Missouri
Christmas Tree Allergy Doctor Dr. Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy review badges and affiliations

About Christmas Tree Allergy

Christmas Tree Allergy Overview
Christmas Tree Allergy Symptoms
Christmas Tree Allergy Tips
Christmas Tree Allergy Treatment

Christmas tree allergy, also called Christmas tree syndrome, describes when an individual experiences an allergic reaction from being around or coming into direct contact with a Christmas tree. Many are surprised to learn that their Christmas trees can carry allergenic substances and trigger allergic reactions. Even more surprising, perhaps, is the fact that allergies to live Christmas trees and their pollen are actually rather uncommon, and Christmas tree allergy is more likely to be caused by mold or dust. Live and artificial Christmas tree allergies can occur.

Live Christmas Tree Allergies

Live Christmas trees contain multiple substances that can trigger an allergic reaction.

  • Terpenes: some people are allergic to oxidized terpenes, the compounds that give Christmas trees their pine fragrance.
  • Tree sap: direct contact with colophony or rosin in Christmas tree sap can cause an allergic rash similar to poison ivy. Pine sap is a common allergy related to Christmas trees.
  • Pollen: you may be allergic to your Christmas tree’s pollen.
  • Mold: your tree may have accumulated mold from being damp.

Artificial Christmas Tree Allergies

Artificial Christmas trees can also carry allergens, depending on how they are stored and handled.
  • Mold: artificial trees can gather mold when stored, especially if kept in a damp environment.
  • Dust: artificial trees can also gather excess dust.
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in St. Louis, Missouri

Christmas tree allergy in St. Louis, Missouri

Christmas Tree Allergy Symptoms

Christmas tree allergy symptoms will vary slightly depending on what Christmas tree allergen you’re allergic to.

Terpenes Allergy Symptoms

  • Asthma symptoms
  • Rhinitis (nasal allergy) symptoms
  • Stuffy nose, congestion, runny nose, sneezing
  • Mucus / phlegm in the throat, sometimes called “postnasal drip”
  • Itching in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, or eyes
  • Teary eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes

Sap Allergy Symptoms

  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Rash
  • Itchiness
  • Difficulty breathing

Pollen Allergy Symptoms

  • Coughing, frequent sneezing, wheezing
  • Runny nose, congestion
  • Sinus pressure
  • Scratchy throat
  • Excess saliva
  • Itchy, stinging, watery eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Asthma symptoms

Mold Allergy Symptoms

  • Runny nose, nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, itchy mouth and lips
  • Asthma symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness
  • More severe symptoms are also possible, such as hives, worsening eczema, swollen eyelids, and upset stomach

Dust Allergy Symptoms

  • Red, itchy or teary eyes
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itching
  • Wheezing, coughing tightness in the chest and shortness of breath
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in St. Louis, Missouri

Christmas tree allergy symptoms in St. Louis, Missouri

Christmas Tree Allergy Tips

These Christmas tree allergy tips might help you stay comfortable this holiday season.

  • Clean your Christmas tree to remove allergens. Shake your tree, rinse it, and dry it outside before bringing it inside. You can also use an air compressor to blow debris from your tree.
  • Use an air purifier in the room where your tree is to help eliminate allergens.
  • If you’ve experienced a skin reaction from contact with your tree, protect your skin when working with the tree. Wear long sleeves and gloves.
  • If pine pollen or sap are triggering your allergies, consider a non-allergenic Christmas tree, such as a fir, spruce, or cypress tree. These are considered the best Christmas tree for allergies if Pine is causing your allergies.
  • Use an artificial Christmas tree if you have a pollen or sap allergy. However, be aware that artificial trees can still accumulate dust and mold, and should be cleaned before setting them up and decorating.
  • Check your Christmas decorations. They may be covered in dust or mold. If you’re sensitive to either of these allergens, be sure to clean your decorations before placing them.
  • Be mindful of other holiday allergy triggers. Your exposure to smoke from fireplaces, scented holiday products, and pets may increase during the holidays.
  • If all else fails, consider setting up your Christmas tree outside rather than inside.

Christmas Tree Allergy Treatment

The first step to Christmas tree allergy treatment is to find out exactly what you’re allergic to. Because Christmas tree allergies can be caused by terpenes, sap, pollen, mold, or dust; allergy testing may be the only way to know for sure which allergen is triggering your reactions.

Once you know what you’re allergic to, avoidance is key. Follow the Christmas tree allergy tips above to minimize your exposure to allergies. Dr. Cajigal at St. Louis Family Allergy can help provide more personalized guidance based on your specific environment and lifestyle.

Christmas tree allergy treatment with over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, or more advanced treatments like allergy shots will depend on what you’re allergic to. Check out our pages on different Christmas tree allergens to learn more:

References

[1] American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: https://acaai.org/ [2] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: https://www.aafa.org/
More Specialties

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Visit Christmas Tree Allergy Specialist Dr. Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy in St. Louis, Missouri

Allergist Dr. Sonia Cajigal

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"Dr. Cajigal was friendly, professional, and informative. She took the time to explain the tests and what was going on with my allergies. She is so knowledgeable and really cared about how I was feeling. I would highly recommend this practice if you suffer from allergies and asthma."

- Sue D, July 2020

“Dr Cajigal is a great listener. She trusts her patients instead of treating them as if they are not the experts of their own bodies. I really appreciate that (many doctors do not have that quality). She also immediately treats the symptoms instead of waiting to see if things clear. I use her for my children and myself. We have never left her office feeling as if it was a waste of time.”

– Stephanie, August 2020

"Great Allergist!"

- Ann H, December 2018

"She is the best."

- Stephen W, June 2020

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