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Christmas trees: festive, beautiful and rife with allergens

Christmas trees, though festive and beautiful to look at, often carry mold and pollen that can aggravate allergy symptoms.

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but that doesn't necessarily mean your allergies are going to cut you any slack. Christmas trees, though festive and beautiful to look at, can often aggravate symptoms, though you don't have to switch from authentic to artificial as long as you take certain precautions.

Dr. Dennis Rhoades of website Doctors Care explained to WMBF News that many trees can still have pollen, even in the middle of the winter. Perhaps more alarming to allergy sufferers is the likelihood that your tree may have traces of mold. If you think about it, it makes sense. They're outside soaking up water, and then stored in damp holding areas. It's an ideal breeding ground for mold.

Allergic reactions to mold can cause symptoms such as itchy eyes, a runny nose, wheezing and difficulty breathing. And it can be a challenge to even spot the fungus.

"Especially with Christmas trees, [and] the types of evergreens [they are], their needles' positions make it hard to examine if there is mold," Dr. Rhoades told the source.

Although you may be thinking that an artificial tree is a better option, that might not be the case. Since they often wind up stored in damp, cluttered basements and attics, even they have the potential to cause allergic reactions due to collecting dust or growing mold.

If you have your heart set on a real tree this year, the American Christmas Tree Association recommends hosing it down with water and letting it dry thoroughly before bringing it inside your home.

There are other actions you can take to prevent mold from growing in your home, such as using a dehumidifier and a special vacuum that can suck up the spores. Another great option is a whole house air purifier, which removes the allergens directly from the air.

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