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Hidden allergens could spoil your holiday festivities

Hidden dangers in your favorite holiday accessories may lead to serious health issues.

CHICAGO (WMAQ) - Allergic to Christmas?

Hidden dangers in your favorite holiday accessories may lead to serious health issues, NBC Chicago reports.

Allergies and asthma, doctors say, can be exacerbated around the holidays, when everyone is inside, together, and often gathered around the beloved Christmas tree that, unfortunately, could be harboring pollen and mold.

"People think it's the tree. It's actually mold spores within the tree causing issues. If you already know you're allergic to mold, or you've had that testing in the past, it's better to steer clear of fresh cut and get a fake tree," said Dr. Karina Gobin.

But artificial plants pose problems, too. That's why mold remediation specialist JT Maier believes cleanliness is key.

"It's not just the dust. It's the moisture. If you ever get moisture mixed with dust, you're going to get mold. It can grow in 2-3 days," Maier said.

That mold and dust can lead to respiratory issues. Maier said to wipe down the artificial tree, ornaments and all decorations before you set them up. The decorations have been stored away for months in garages, basements and attics, all prime breeding grounds for mold and dust mites.

"The most important thing is that you keep your house clean and put them away in a plastic or non-organic type of box," Maier said.

That means no cardboard, since paper is food for mold. Instead, choose a waterproof and sealed container and store it in a cool, dry place.

To keep the air clean for your holiday guests, avoid scented, petroleum-based candles that can produce soot and irritating particles.

And poinsettias can be problematic, too, and not just for pets. Since the plants are part of the rubber tree family, they could cause issues for those who are allergic to latex.