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Christmas Trees May Be Allergy Trigger

Was Santa's 'Nose like a Cherry' an Allergic Reaction to Mold Spores?
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WebMD Health News

Nov. 13, 2006 - There may be a reason for your Christmas-season sneezing: your Christmas tree.

Christmas trees can trigger itchy noses, scratchy eyes, and sneezing, say allergist Michael Alexander, MD, of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and colleagues.

Alexander's team asked 12 allergy sufferers to track their symptoms over the Christmas holiday. Only four remained sufficiently free of distractions to actually do this.

But those four had significantly more allergy symptoms than a comparison group of seven Jehovah's Witnesses (who do not celebrate Christmas).

Symptoms started to rise when the Christmas tree entered the home. And they subsided when the Christmas tree went away -- although taking it down stirred up one last bout of sneezing and itching.

Tests of the trees showed they are a source of mold spores, with air tests detecting spores in rooms with the trees.

Santa's Symptoms

"His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry," wrote Clement Clarke Moore (or Henry Livingston Jr., as some scholars now believe), describing Santa in The Night Before Christmas.

Santa may, of course, have simply been filled with good cheer. But, as the story continues, he left the house "laying his finger aside of his nose." What Alexander calls "nasal itching"?

The researchers report their findings in a poster presentation at this week's Annual Meeting of the America College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology in Philadelphia.

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