Allergic to Christmas? How to avoid a festive allergy flare-up

19/05/2020 — By Hannah Mepham

Allergic to Christmas? How to avoid a festive allergy flare-up

Are you or a loved one allergic to Christmas? Here we reveal the common Christmas allergens and explain how to minimise the risk of experiencing a festive allergy flare-up.

Advent calendar allergens

Dairy, gluten and nuts can be used to make Christmas chocolates and are common advent allergens. If you or your loved one are intolerant to any of these food groups, an easy way to count down to Christmas without encountering allergens is to swap sweets for other surprises.

In recent years advent calendars have gone far beyond chocolate to feature everything from herbal tea to beauty products to candles so there’s no need to miss out - have fun with one of the alternative advent calendars out there!

Allergens in your stocking

Christmas confectionary is a traditional stocking filler but you can take out the associated allergy risk by swapping sweet treats for useful organic beauty favourites such as skin care, toothpaste or a deodorant.


christmas gift


Allergens under the Christmas tree

Food and skin care gifts can present a problem for those with allergies or sensitive skin. Some of the most common skin care allergens are SLS, methylisothiazolinone and synthetic fragrance. Green People’s organic beauty products are pure and gentle so they make ideal Christmas gifts for sensitive skin.


Give the gift of a calm complexion with scent-free skin care. With pure plant extracts and not even a drop of essential oil, our sensitive skin care is just the thing for allergy-prone skin.

Worried that shopping for an allergy-friendly gift will stress out your Secret Santa? If having sensitive skin makes receiving gifts a problem, help support their choice by building a gift list through a wish list app. Suggest a couple of suitable retailers or products and make it easier for loved ones to find a gift that you’ll love.

Decoration allergens

Decking the halls with holly, ivy and mistletoe can make your home look like a winter wonderland but be sure to wear gloves if you are making your own wreaths or garlands. This will help to protect your skin from the sting of plant prickles and reduce your risk of skin irritation.

Many people also suffer from a Christmas tree allergy which can cause a rash or hayfever-like symptoms. If this is you or someone in your family, you may wish to opt for an artificial tree – but these in themselves can cause problems for those with dust allergies.


christmas tree


Allergens at Christmas dinner

Food allergies can put allergy suffers at risk of a reaction and when preparing Christmas dinner, it’s important to check if your dinner guests have any food intolerances or allergies.

Common Christmas dinner allergens include gluten, nuts and seafood but it is possible to be allergic to a wide variety of ingredients.

An easy way to minimise your guests’ risk of experiencing an allergy flare-up at Christmas is take note from Santa! He makes his list and checks it twice and you should do the same when reading food ingredient labels.

Most brands will list common allergens on their packaging in bold but care should also be taken to prepare food without cross contamination.

If a guest has an allergy, consider making stuffing and sauces from scratch using separate utensils and, if you have space, separate ovens.

Nut allergies are particularly difficult to prepare for and it’s best not to includes nuts ingredients when you are catering for this kind of air-borne allergy.



christmas dinner table


Amy is our Creative Team Leader and has been gluten intolerant since her teens. Here she reveals how she avoids allergy triggers at Christmas:

“I’ve been managing my gluten intolerance for 15 years and when it comes to spotting potential allergy triggers in food or skin care, the thing that gives me most peace-of-mind is seeing the gluten-free symbol on the label.

“I tend to react more to gluten when it’s in food than in skin care but to be on the safe side, I also always patch-test new skin care products.”

How to patch test beauty gifts

During the excitement of Christmas, it can be tempting to delve into skin care gifts as soon as they are unwrapped but patch-testing new products can help to avoid the risk of an allergic reaction.

To patch-test beauty products follow these three steps:

  1. Apply a small amount of the product to the inner forearm about 2cm square.
  2. If no redness or swelling appears after 12 hours, apply a similar amount to the same area of skin and leave for a further 12 hours.
  3. If the area continues to tolerate the product, apply the product to the same area for the third time. If no reaction occurs within 24 hours, it is likely that the product is tolerated.

Other tips for managing allergies at Christmas

Following these tips can help to avoid allergy triggers over the festive period but you should also ensure you know what to do if you or a guest does experience an allergic reaction.


Antihistamines can be purchased at most pharmacies and having them to hand on Christmas day can help to reduce the swelling and redness associated with allergic reactions. According to the NHS, antihistamines are not suitable for everyone so be sure to check that they are suitable for you to take and always read the label before taking any medication.


If you or a guest have been prescribed an Epi-Pen for your allergy, make sure you know where it is and how to use it.


Many GP surgeries and health centres will be closed over Christmas so make sure you know which centres are open near you and how to contact them. In the event of anaphylaxis, the NHS recommends calling 999 as soon as you can.


How do you manage your allergies at Christmas? Join the conversation at @GreenPeopleUK .