Originally published by Allergy & Lifestyle on November 13, 2020

Christmas is coming, and along with the excitement of preparing for Santa, visitors, and parties, if you have allergies, extra vigilance is required over the holiday season as an increase in allergic reactions usually occurs over this period. This year with COVID19 restrictions, we will all need to take additional considerations into account and follow local public health advice to stay safe while having a good Christmas.

Top tips to avoid triggers of allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock over Christmas:

Food

If you have a food allergy, plan ahead for any festive celebrations, checking recipes and ingredients for allergens. House visits and eating out may be limited this year with COVID19, but if you are going to someone else house, phone a few days in advance & chat about your allergies. Check ingredients, share recipes, or bring an allergy-friendly dish along.

Thanks to new legislation, restaurants are getting better at catering for allergy customers, but it’s always good to ring ahead and speak with the manager or chef and ensure they can cater for you and are prepared to avoid cross-contamination with oils and utensils which might be contaminated with an allergen. At this time of year, recipes can change to become more decorative. Food can be sprinkled with nuts or other allergens to look more festive.

Drinks

Festive drinks can also cause problems for allergy and anaphylaxis. Christmas is a time when people break out new and interesting drinks which may have been spiced or flavored. If you deviate from your usual tipple over Christmas, it’s important to consider allergens such as:

  • Sulfites in wine
  • Pine nuts in craft beer
  • Almonds in some gins such as Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire
  • Milk in cream liquors
  • Gluten in beers & spirits

Christmas Trees

Mould & pollen on real Christmas trees can cause problems for people with allergies. Ask a non-allergic buddy to give your tree a good shake and hose down and then allow it to dry before bringing it into your home. The same applies to artificial Christmas trees and dust mite allergies.

Decorations

When you locate those decorations in the attic, they can be covered in dust, causing problems for people with dust mite allergies. Wipe them down with a damp cloth and store them in airtight plastic containers when putting them away to avoid dust build-up.

Poinsettia’s & Balloons

If you have a latex allergy, be careful around poinsettias as these popular Christmas plants are a member of the rubber tree family and, along with balloons, can cause problems for people with latex allergies. Festive balloons can also be a problem, so try and raise awareness amongst friends and work colleagues and go for latex-free balloons.

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