Why your Christmas tree can pose a genuine risk to your health

Breaking out in a rash could ­really put a dampener on your festivities so it could be worth doing a check of your home for potential allergic hazards.

Many allergy triggers lurk in our homes and new ones appear at ­Christmas when last year’s decorations emerge from dusty boxes covered in mould spores and pollen.

There’s even been a seasonal warning that your Christmas tree could cause a serious attack of asthma.

According to the NHS, one in five of us has an indoor allergy and it could spoil your Christmas.

Every Christmas Day around 300 people in the UK are admitted to hospital with a serious asthma attack, followed by more as the holidays go on, due to Christmas trees being left in the house, according to Asthma UK.

The fir hides moulds and spores, which can multiply in the warmth of your living room and aggravate the lungs of asthma sufferers.

And fake trees are not necessarily a safe bet either because they can gather dust and mould if they’ve been stored in a loft.

A US study suggests there’s been a rise in respiratory illnesses – dubbed “Christmas tree syndrome” – in the weeks around December 25.

Researchers at Upstate Medical University in New York discovered 53 types of mould on 28 Christmas trees and said most of the moulds identified were potential allergens.

Their research suggests airborne mould spores could multiply from 800 spores per cubic metre to 5,000 in just two weeks after a tree is brought into the home. In response to the potential dangers, Asthma UK has come up with the following guidelines for real Christmas trees:

  • Hose down your real tree before you bring it into the house. This will help to wash off the allergens.
  • Keep the tree in the coolest part of the house.
  • If you notice anyone in the house has breathing difficulties, get rid of the tree straight away.

And for artificial trees:

  • Brush the tree thoroughly with a stiff brush then wipe down your tree and decorations with a damp cloth to remove the dust.
  • When you pack the tree and ­decorations away for next year use plastic bags and boxes so they’re less likely to collect dust.

And a wise precaution would be to check your guests for allergies well before the celebrations begin, even down to allergies to your dog or cat!