Allergic to Christmas


Each year, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, according to During the holiday season, allergies can be triggered and irritated among all of the festivities. Luckily, once the allergy source is identified, most holiday allergies can be avoided. 
The most common holiday allergies are food-based, according to Often, people get distracted and become unaware of the ingredients included in their recipes, resulting in allergy attacks. Cross-contamination is also a large problem for individuals with food-based allergies, according to

“Nuts and dairy are the hardest allergies to manage during the holiday season, since they can often be found in a lot of bakery and holiday food products,” Sacred Heart Greenwich’s School Nurse Mrs. Mary Walsh said. “Anyone who has allergies should only eat something they brought in to school from their own home, so they know it is safe.”

Evergreen Christmas trees contain molds that many people are allergic to. Courtesy of

Evergreen Christmas trees are another common and often unidentified holiday allergy source. Many individuals are allergic to a compound called Terpene, which is a mold that grows on the trunks of trees and is found in the tree’s sap, according to
In 2011, staff at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University performed a study and published it in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, according to The study found that a small sample of evergreen Christmas trees carry about 50 different types of mold, such as powdery and downy mildew. Two-thirds of the 50 types of mold found can cause allergic reactions, similar to those of pollen allergies. 
Besides evergreen trees, artificial snow is also a common holiday allergy source. When inhaled, artificial snow can cause asthma symptoms, according to  Christmas decorations that accumulate dust in storage can also cause similar allergy symptoms once they are put on display for the holiday season.
In addition to dust, living with pets during the winter months can also increase allergy sensitivity, specifically those allergic to fur and pet hair, according to
“You’re in a closed-up house, the heater is on, the windows shut — that’s why indoor allergies get worse in the winter,” associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at the College of Wisconsin Dr. Asriani Chiu said, according to
Poinsettias are a member of the rubber tree family and can cause allergies. Courtesy of

Poinsettias, a traditional Christmas flower, also cause allergies during the holidays. Since poinsettias are a member of the rubber tree family, they can spark latex allergies, according to
Though they are not exclusive to the holiday season, wood-burning fires can also cause serious allergic reactions, according to
“There are particles and toxic agents emitted by burning wood that, when inhaled, may cause shortness of breath or wheezing and possibly a life-threatening asthma attack that may require emergency health care,” Director of the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School Dr. Leonard Bielory said, according to
Along with the holiday season comes a variety of unique allergy sources. Entering situations with caution can help reduce holiday-related allergy attacks and encourage a safe and healthy Christmas.
– Sydney Kim, Staff Writer