The holidays are a season of joy, gratitude, and family. However, for people with allergies it can be a difficult time. Class parties and homemade treats make it hard to check food labels and ingredients. Christmas trees and decorations can cause their own problems with those who are environmental or dust mite allergic. Having to say “no” to a thoughtful treat given by a neighbor due to your child’s nut allergy, but still remaining grateful for the gesture can be awkward.
Most common holiday dishes are sprinkled or baked with nuts to make the dish look more festive. This is something to be cautious of during pot lucks or family dinners. People without food allergies or children who suffer with food allergies can sometimes forget. If you or your child has a food allergy, it is best to ask for the menu ahead of time and remind friends of any food allergies. Homemade items can also be contaminated with small amounts of allergens through contact during preparation, storage containers, or baking utensils. Try to explain to family members the importance of safe practices while cooking for someone with a food allergy.
Christmas Trees and Decorations
Everyone loves a live Christmas tree, but unfortunately, it can make the holiday season miserable for people with allergies. It is best to ask someone who is non-allergic to give a live tree a good shake and hose down before bringing it into your home. Although a fake Christmas tree may seem like a safer option, the same applies for dust mite allergies. When you pull down decorations in the attic they can be covered in dust and can cause problems for people with dust mite allergies. It is best to wipe them down with a damp cloth and store in airtight plastic containers when putting them away to avoid dust build up. Poinsettias are a holiday favorite, but these plants are members of the rubber tree family and can cause problems for those with latex allergies.
Saying “no” to a gift while still remaining grateful
During the holiday season, a neighbor may bake pecan pies or banana nut bread and give as gifts. While this is an endearing gesture, if they are unaware of yours or your child’s allergies they do not know the harm this could cause. A nice way to let your neighbor know would be to say something like: “I’m sad that my family can’t enjoy your special dessert because of our child’s nut allergies. To keep him safe and included, can we invite you over bake an allergy-friendly dessert and start a new tradition with us?”
It is important to keep your epi pen close during the holiday season, as allergic reactions are common during this time. If you would like to learn more about the treatments for environmental and food allergies available, please call us at 205-871-9661 or visit our website at alabamaallergy.com.
Courtney Hendrix, CRNP is a nurse practitioner with Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center.
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