Holiday decorations may be something to sneeze at

As you begin pulling down the holiday decorations from the attic this season, doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center have some tips for cutting down allergy risks.

“Carrying items down from dusty attics or pulling them from garages and storage areas can stir up dust and molds,” says Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of allergy and immunology at UT Southwestern.

When selecting decorations, try avoiding fabric, which trap more dust than plastic, metal and glass items. But if you have fabric decorations, try washing them before putting them up.

If decorations appear dusty, take them outside and wipe them down before putting them up in your home. That can be particularly helpful with artificial trees, which can accumulate dust and mold in the branches.

Also, about one in every 10 people is allergic to mountain cedar pollen, and these trees release their pollen just at the time you’d be bringing them indoors to decorate. Fortunately, this is only a risk for those who like to go out into the wild and cut their own trees. The Scotch pines and Douglas firs available at most Christmas tree lots or cut-it-yourself tree farms don’t pollinate during the winter.

Other things that may exacerbate symptoms in people with asthma and allergies during the holiday season include scented candles, wood stored for fireplaces and even the smoke from fires. If traveling during the holidays, consider taking your own pillow with a dust-mite-proof encasement.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/allergy to learn more about clinical services for allergies at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Return to December 2010/Holiday News Tips

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