The festive season can bring challenges for people suffering with allergies, mainly because you could be exposed to triggers that are specific to the Holiday Season and New Years. But with a little forward planning and our top 10 holiday allergy tips and allergy treatments, you can relax and enjoy yourself without fear of disruptive allergy symptoms.
The first couple of allergy tips are about decorations. Did you know that Christmas trees can harbour a lot of pollen? And that the terpene in the sap that's released when they are cut can be a potent allergen? The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests that you go over the tree with a leaf blower, and then spray it with water, leaving it to dry outside before bringing it indoors. That will help bring down the mould and pollen levels emitted from the tree. You may, of course, opt for a pretty artificial Christmas tree - but these are big dust traps if stored during the year. The same goes for that box of Christmas decorations you bring down from the attic at the start of December. Unpack your artificial tree and other decorations outside, and vacuum and dust them thoroughly before displaying them inside.
Candles are popular during the Holiday Season. But try to buy beeswax or soy candles. A report to the American Chemical Society last year revealed that paraffin candles release a lot of particulate matter which will add to your burden of indoor air pollution. Avoid scented candles if someone is allergic to strong perfumes.
Have you finished your shopping for the Holiday Season? Here are some allergy tips for what to buy someone with an allergy. A high quality air purifier would be our first suggestion. Maybe your children still hanker after a pet, even if they suffer with asthma. There are certain steps you can take to limit exposure of pet allergens and thus limit allergy and asthma symptoms. But for people with severe asthma or allergies living with a pet might not be possible. An alternative for children with asthma or allergies might be a hypoallergenic washable soft toy instead.
Jewellery is always a nice present - but do avoid nickel (which is so common in costume jewellery) because so many people are allergic to it. If you can afford it, buy gold. If not, look for an alternative gift. Perfume and perfumed products may well cause rhinitis in someone who is sensitive to strong scents, and can cause other allergy as well as asthma symptoms. If you are buying a warm jumper or cardigan for some one with allergies, avoid luxury fabrics like angora and cashmere - and even wool - because they can trigger eczema. Pure cotton is best (why not go for a long brushed cotton nightie or a pair of cosy cotton pyjamas?) A plant is also a lovely present - but stay away from the popular Christmas poinsettia if the recipient has an allergy to latex - because it is a member of the rubber family. Roses or orchids are a better bet for the plant lover with allergies.
Maybe you've decided to get away from it all for the holidays. Country cottages with roaring log or coal fires are a romantic, cosy option at this time of year. Unfortunately, the smoke from these traditional fires are loaded with particulate matter and carry a high risk of triggering asthma attacks.
And finally, just a few simple common sense tips. If the weather gets really cold - as we've been promised - you might stay indoors more than usual, especially if you are off work. Make sure you have enough ventilation to protect against indoor pollution (be especially vigilant that condensation does not build up - increased humidity encourages house dust mite and moulds.) Use an allergy air purifier to capture dust, traffic pollution and other common allergens. If your doctor has recommended a flu jab, don't miss out on it in the Christmas rush. Wash your hands a lot to avoid colds and flu. And - easier said than done, I know - watch those stress levels, because some people find it triggers their asthma. Happy holidays!