11 December 2017 -
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Winter allergies in the UK
Most people don’t associate hayfever with the winter but an increasing number of Brits are experiencing these symptoms in the winter. What is causing this is from Christmas trees and a recent intruder called ragweed. This plant – a US native – is currently thriving in the UK’s damp mild autumns and winters and its pollen is a potent allergen. If you suffer from autumnal allergic rhinitis, the advice is to avoid fields and parks in the early evening when the spores are most likely to float around at nose level.
Are you allergic to your Christmas tree?
You might not think there is such a thing as a Christmas tree allergy, but right now, as the house glows in a cosy festive atmosphere, you may have symptoms such as feeling dizzy or you may get a cold or rash. You attribute these symptoms to the flu virus, which is making the rounds again. But maybe this time it’s something different? You might well have a Christmas tree allergy. This actually does exist and unfortunately is not uncommon.
Christmas Tree Allergy
According to a poll, this year from Prevalin Allergy known as ‘Christmas tree syndrome’, ”More than a third of Brits suffer from an increase in hay fever-like symptoms during this time of year.”
The atmospheric, beautifully scented Christmas tree is not as harmless as it looks. The branches, needles and resin of the fir are full of rosin, a substance that causes a contact allergy in many people. The result is red, itchy skin bumps. A more severe form of the allergy even leads to eczema. People who are very susceptible to this type of allergy, are also often unable to tolerate sticking plasters, because their adhesive strips also contain rosin, just like floor wax, some adhesives and make-up. Therefore, use these products with care if you are allergic to Christmas trees.
Rashes and eczema are not the only symptoms caused by contact with a Christmas tree.
Other symptoms that indicate an allergy to fir trees are:
• Fatigue -Lack of energy
• Sleep disorders
• Chest pain
These symptoms are caused by mould fungi. You might not want to believe it, but such a freshly felled tree from the forest is full of it. Studies have shown that in the two weeks that the tree is in your home, the number of moulds per cubic metre increases enormously. If you are susceptible to these organisms, the likelihood that you’ll spend the Christmas holidays listless and sick on the couch will also increase.
Hayfever at Christmas
Do you and your loved one give each other Christmas presents? The tree also has traces of pollen, which stuck to its needles last year. Now that the tree is in your dry apartment, the pollen spreads around your house in no time at all. This does not go well for people who suffer from asthma as their symptoms can be exacerbated by this. Hayfever can also be triggered by this pollen, which is accompanied by a runny nose, itchy eyes and shortness of breath. Allergic rhinitis in December! No wonder many people attribute these symptoms to the flu.
Tips for allergic reactions
How can you survive the Christmas holidays without a runny nose, Asthma attacks and skin complaints?
• Buy a Christmas tree with root attached – it will dry out more slowly compared to a sawn-off tree, making mould spores and pollen harder to spread.
• After your purchase, spray your Christmas tree with water using the garden hose and allow it to dry in a shed before bringing it indoors.
• Wear long gloves when decorating the tree to protect your hands and forearms against a contracting a contact allergy.
• Dust the Christmas baubles and the remaining Christmas decorations before hanging them on the tree to remove any dust.
• The longer the tree is in your home, the higher the risk of possible symptoms so put the tree out in the garden after one to two weeks.
• If you experience a really bad reaction to the Christmas tree, then there is only one solution: an artificial Christmas tree a tree for life.
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Last updated on December 11, 2017.