The top holiday allergy triggers

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer.

That means trimming trees, hanging decorations, festive fragrances, and all the food your belly can handle. Unfortunately, if you’ve got allergies or are sensitive to strong smells, all those trimmings can turn you from a smiling Santa into a grumbling grinch. These are four common culprits of the holiday sniffles:

Scented Candles

The smells of the season can be intoxicating — warm spices, sweet evergreen, baking treats — which is why so many of them are captured in the ubiquitous holiday scented candle. But, studies have shown that all that olfactory goodness can come with a price. Heavily perfumed candles can put off more soot than odorless ones. Prolonged or acute exposure can lead lung problems, and, one study says, even certain types of cancer.

Christmas Trees & Wreaths

A big enough dose of that pine-fresh scent could send even the least-sensitive among us into a sneezing fit, but that’s not the worst of it: Doctors warn that live trees can play host to mold. After a week or two, spores could float through the home enough to cause rashes, watery eyes, and other allergic reactions. In fact, one research team found that mold spore counts could reach five times the typically acceptable level within two weeks.

Dusty Decorations

Tucked away in closets, attics, and basements for 11-plus months out of the year, holiday decorations can collect plenty of crud during their off-season. If not packed in an airtight container, ornaments and other festive decor can develop mold. And no matter what, every item deserves a good dusting before getting situated into its festive spot in the home.


These vibrant red plants scream holiday, but they also bring a dose of pollen along for the ride. As the potted plants flower, they release pollen into your home, which can easily trigger allergies and asthma. Sidenote: Poinsettia plants come from the same family as rubber trees, so anyone with a latex allergy should avoid touching them, especially their sap.

As with any allergen or pollutant, the best offense is a good defense. Being aware of what could be causing seasonal sniffles is the first step, but proper ventilation and air purification can trim the triggers, so you can enjoy your tree.


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