SALINAS, Calif (KION) After nearly 11 months in storage, the holiday decorations are coming out of their boxes. They brighten the room, lift our spirits, and sometimes, they make you sneeze .
The problem (get ready to say, “ew”) is dust mites that have been living all year around your decorations.
"It's the debris they leave behind. It’s actually their feces. That's what people are sensitized or are allergic to,” explained allergist Dr. Farnaz Tabatabaian.
The dust mites are not attracted to the decorations themselves, but more likely what you store them in.
She used the medical term “nidus” to describe a place in which bacteria can multiply.
“If you have a synthetic tree, in itself, it is not going to be a nidus for dust mites,” she said. “But being in a box, inside, or if they have a fabric around it, it can be a nidus and if someone has underlining allergies or asthma, it can definitely trigger those symptoms.”
There can be problems with real trees too. Some carry ragweed pollen from northern states, or even mold spores.
"If it’s at higher content when it’s inside the home, it can cause you to become more sneezy or trigger some of your asthma symptoms,” said Dr. Tabatabaian.
To be extra safe, sensitive families can use a spray bottle filled with water to spritz down the tree or even add a small capful of chlorine to the tree's water reservoir.