‘Tis the Season to Be Sniffly – by Courtney Hutchison, ABC News Medical Unit, 12/24/09
From potpourri to Christmas trees, many of the festive activities or decorations festooning your home could be causing itchy skin, a runny nose or watery eyes.
And for those with serious food allergies, holiday parties and visits to friends and family can make dodging dangerous foods quite a feat.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, says, “people come into the office with watery eyes and a runny nose — they don’t consider themselves to have allergies. But [if you point it out], they’ll note that they have this problem every year around the holidays. I like to call it ‘Christmas Tree Allergy Syndrome.'”
Bassett suggests using a leaf blower outside to blow pollen off you and washing the tree — especially the trunk — with a garden hose when you bring it home. Let it dry in the garage before decorating.
So what can you do to avoid having a Rudolph-red nose — or, worse, a trip to the E.R. — around the holidays? Bassett and Daines give the following advice on dodging allergies this winter.
Wash off Christmas trees with a garden hose to get rid of extra pollen or mold that may be on the branches and let them dry out in the garage before bringing them into the house.
Wear long sleeves and gloves when handling the tree to avoid skin irritation.
If a real tree is aggravating to your allergies, consider using an artificial tree but be sure to store it in an airtight container to prevent dust and mold from collecting, and wipe it down when you take it out from storage each year.
If you have a life-threatening allergy, make that clear to your server and perhaps even write it down for them or call ahead to inform the restaurant.
Make sure kids with allergies wear medical bracelets that clearly state their allergies.
Avoid buffets if you have food allergies because oftentimes serving utensils are used for multiple dishes and can cross-contaminate food.
When in doubt, bring your own snacks as back-up.