Is My Christmas Tree Making Me Cough And Sneeze?

December 1, 2023

Just as you've joyfully brought home your fresh Christmas tree, the excitement of setting it up and adorning it with decorations fills the air. However, after a day or two, you find yourself sneezing and experiencing shortness of breath—could it be what some call "Christmas tree syndrome?”

AFC Urgent Care Saugus created a blog to further comprehend the “Christmas Tree Syndrome” topic. Before you get into a love hate relationship with your tree, let us determine if it’s your tree or something else. 

Understanding Christmas Tree Syndrome:

While envisioning Christmas trees typically brings to mind shiny bulbs, handmade ornaments, twinkling lights, and a gleaming star atop the tree, there might be less desirable additions to your festive centerpiece.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology notes that if you're sneezing and wheezing, it's unlikely to be an allergy to the Christmas tree itself but rather a reaction to mold spores concealed within the trees. These microscopic spores have the potential to trigger asthma attacks, sneezing, or an itchy nose.

In a 2007 study, airborne mold spores in an apartment surged from 800 spores per cubic meter before the introduction of a live Christmas tree to 5,000 spores per cubic meter two weeks after the tree had been inside. This escalation can pose a significant issue for those allergic to mold, especially in homes with central heating and air systems that facilitate the dispersal of mold spores throughout the house.

Beyond mold, Christmas trees can also harbor weed pollen from plants that flourish in the fall, as highlighted by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. This pollen has the potential to trigger asthma and allergy symptoms and can originate from weeds, grasses, and trees.

Addressing Allergies to Trees:

While allergies to pine trees are possible, they are not commonplace. Pine pollen, produced in the spring, is an unlikely cause of Christmas tree syndrome in the winter. Some individuals may experience allergic skin reactions, known as contact dermatitis, when they come into contact with the sticky resin of a pine tree. Wearing long, thick sleeves when setting up a live Christmas tree is advisable to minimize skin contact, especially for those prone to such skin reactions.


  • Opting for an artificial tree, though it may lack the nostalgic fragrance of a real tree, serves as a good alternative if live Christmas trees trigger adverse reactions.
  • Exercise caution when using artificial snow or flocking trees, as inhaling particles from these sprays can provoke asthma attacks.
  • If opting for a real tree, allow it to dry for a week in your garage or enclosed porch, then vigorously shake it before bringing it indoors. Using a leaf blower on the tree outside can aid in eliminating unwelcome particles.
  • Running a high-performance air purifier in the same room as the Christmas tree can help control mold spores.
  • Be mindful that even artificial trees can accumulate mold and dust if not stored properly at the end of the Christmas season.

AFC Urgent Care Saugus Can Treat You This Holiday Season

If concerns about allergies to mold, pine trees, or other allergens arise, it's advisable to consult with your healthcare provider. For immediate assistance and expert guidance, AFC Urgent Care Saugus is here to address your health concerns.

Our doors are open seven days a week, welcoming most insurance plans. Whether you prefer to walk in, schedule an appointment, or contact us by phone, we're here for you. Explore our hassle-free online payment system, ensuring a smooth check-in and check-out process. Wishing you a joyful holiday season and continued well-being!

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