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Christmas tree allergy: Potential dangers and symptoms

Christmas tree allergy: Potential dangers and symptoms How to recognize an allergy to a Christmas tree (photo: Freepik)

The Christmas tree at home can become not only a source of festive atmosphere but also a cause of health problems, as it can trigger allergies. It is essential to know it quickly and start treatment.

Ukrainian allergist Olha Tarnavska exclusively shared information on when allergies to Christmas trees occur and how to recognize them for RBC-Ukraine.

The potential dangers of an artificial Christmas tree

"An artificial Christmas tree is made of plastic - a polymeric material that is a product of organic chemical synthesis. It is good if this polymer is of high quality and resistant to the effects of high and low temperatures. Accordingly, the cost of a high-quality artificial Christmas tree can be quite high. The more expensive the tree, the more trust it inspires," says the doctor.

She adds that, under the influence of heat from radiators or lights, branches of an expensive Christmas tree will not release phenol and formaldehyde - the most dangerous products of polymer degradation.

"When purchasing an artificial Christmas tree, pay attention to the smell emanating from the packaging or the product itself - it is better to notice it during the purchase. Chemical substances released are irritating to the respiratory tract. They can provoke, for example, an attack in individuals with bronchial asthma who do not receive constant therapy. Not to mention the direct toxicity of the released chemicals, especially for small children," says Tarnavska.

At the same time, the doctor notes that for Christmas, the presence of a live tree, pine, fir, or cedar in the house is beneficial.

Is there an allergy to a live Christmas tree

There cannot be a reaction to phytoncides - plant-origin substances with antimicrobial properties produced by the tree into the air from the surface of its needles. The phytoncides of coniferous trees are undoubtedly beneficial for us.

"They purify the air, positively affect the function of the nervous and cardiovascular systems, the condition of the mucous membrane of the nose and throat, and provide freshness to the air by promoting an increased concentration of negative ions," explains the allergist.

According to the doctor, for most of us, a Christmas tree is not only a holiday attribute but also a source of health, as long as it hasn't brought dust and mold fungi into the room, which can be allergens.

"And one more point: the resin that accumulates in microcracks on the tree trunk and branches is rich in essential oils and aromatic terpene compounds that can irritate the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract and thereby increase sensitivity in people prone to allergic reactions, especially to other allergens, to household dust," says the doctor.

She emphasized that this concerns precisely the so-called "compromised" patients who tend to have various allergic reactions or suffer from chronic respiratory diseases.

How to recognize allergy to a Christmas tree

"Most often, people with allergies react to a live pine tree. If you have an allergy to the scent of this tree, its sap, or pollen, the allergic reaction will occur almost immediately. There are cases when symptoms may manifest later, within a few days," says the allergist. ⠀

The symptoms of the allergy resemble those of hay fever - skin rashes appear, a person starts sneezing and coughing, their nose becomes congested, their eyes may start tearing, or breathing problems may arise.

"In this case, it's better to remove the Christmas tree or take an antihistamine, and in case of a rash resembling hives, apply a hormonal cream or ointment to the skin - once is usually enough," advises Tarnavska.

Earlier, we talked about household items that contain toxins.