Christmas tree syndrome – one of the first signs you could be suffering

With December well and truly underway, many people’s homes will be adorned with traditional Christmas decorations – candles, ornaments and, of course, a Christmas tree. But Head of Clinical Services at Leightons Opticians, Kiki Soteri, has warned if you’re suddenly suffering sore, itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing and even asthma attacks, you could have Christmas tree syndrome.

Kiki advised one of the first things you might notice if experiencing Christmas tree syndrome is itchy eyes. She said: “The symptoms are similar to seasonal allergies such as hay fever including sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery and eye discomfort.”

These allergies could be triggered by the mould growth and pollen that is found on natural Christmas trees, said Kiki. Similarly, dust mites can commonly trigger respiratory allergies, and they can be brought into your house on natural trees or accumulate on artificial trees, as well as on lights and ornaments.

So what should you do if you spot symptoms?

Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care shared seven tips on how to stay safe.

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1. For artificial trees, ensure you clean the tree before setting it up, to remove any dust or allergies presented on the tree.

2. For natural trees, shake off allergens and rinse with a hose or wipe, ensuring thorough drying before bringing indoors.

3. Place the tree in a room with a regulated temperature area so it’s not too hot or cold.

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4. Wear gloves and long sleeves when handling the tree, and wash hands after touching it or decorations.

5. If immediate allergic reactions occur, use antihistamines and avoid close contact with the tree.

6. Clean contact lenses thoroughly to prevent allergies causing eye irritation, daily disposable contact lenses are a good option for allergy sufferers.

7. Minimise the time the tree is indoors to reduce mould spores. Consider putting it up or taking down the tree later or earlier in December.

If your symptoms persist, speak to your GP, who can rule out any other possible causes.

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