The Holidays and Allergies

For a lot of the country, wintertime itself means more time indoors. Dry air and more exposure to dust and pet dander can lead to common allergy symptoms, like congestion and sneezing. For some people, holiday decorating can make things even worse, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. While it’s rare for someone to be allergic to a Christmas tree itself, some trees may have mold spores that can trigger symptoms. Letting the tree dry in a garage or an enclosed porch for a week before bringing it inside can help. An artificial tree is an option that works for many people with allergies.(1) An artificial tree or decorations that have been in boxes for close to a year can accumulate dust and mold. It’s a good idea to wipe them down with a soft cloth before putting up.(2)

Burning candles for Hanukkah or setting up a roaring fire may be an important part of the holiday, but can be risky for someone with asthma. Keep the flames and smoke to a minimum; someone with asthma may want to pass on that part of the festivities.(2) Speaking of candles, avoid scented ones, as they can sometimes bring on sneezing and congestion. Unscented beeswax candles are a good alternative.(3)

Food is often a central part of holiday gatherings. If visiting another home, someone with food allergies needs to be forthcoming in asking about ingredients for dishes served. “Be aware that cross-contamination can occur during preparation.”(1) Cooks who want to explore new dishes can check out websites that cater to people with food allergies and provide alternative ingredients, if needed.(2)

(1) The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Allergies, Asthma and Winter Holidays,

(2) The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Despite Allergies, Asthma, a COVID Holiday Can Still Be Merry and Bright,

(3) verywellhealth, 11 Ways to Cope With Christmas Tree or Pine Allergies for the Holidays,