Make Holiday Gifts Nice, Not Naughty
It’s difficult enough to find the perfect holiday gifts for friends and loved ones, but the task becomes even trickier if they have allergies or asthma.
Allergist Dr. Kusum Sharma of AKANE Institute of Allergy, Asthma & Sleep Medicine, a member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), suggests the following gift-giving tips:
GO EASY ON EDIBLES
Food allergens lurk in all kinds of holiday goodies, from fruitcake (nuts) to cookies (wheat), so you’re better off avoiding food gifts. A better bet is a gift certificate to the recipient’s favorite restaurant.
PAUSE AT THE PET SHOP
Little ones may beg for a furry friend, but pet dander, saliva and urine from cats and dogs can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, which will certainly put a damper on holiday cheer. Instead, consider a hypoallergenic stuffed animal that’s machine washable. Parents, remember to wash it weekly in hot water or freeze it overnight to rid it of allergy and asthma triggering dust mites.
GO FOR THE GOLD
Jewelry may seem like a safe bet, but many people have a nickel allergy, frequently found in costume jewelry. If 18 karat gold is too much for your budget, consider an alternative gift like a watch.
BE CAUTIONS OF CLOTHING
A festive holiday sweater may be in style but if it’s made with angora (rabbit fur) or wool (including cashmere) your friend with itchy eczema will feel miserable rather than fashionable. If you want to give clothing to someone with eczema, pick something made of 100 percent cotton.
PLEASE, NO PERFUMES
Perfume, candles, soaps or lotions won’t pamper those who sneeze from strong scents or may even break out in a rash. Shop at stores that feature allergen free products or consider a department store gift certificate.
PASS ON THE POINSETTIA
Nothing says the holidays like poinsettias, but it can mean trouble for those with a latex allergy (the plant is in the rubber tree family). Flowers in general can make people with allergies sniff and sneeze. If you insist on bestowing blooms, consider roses and orchids, which tend to be less of a problem for allergy sufferers.
The best gift of all would be to let your allergy or asthma prone friends and loved ones know that their conditions are treatable. According to Dr Sharma, with recent advances, it is even possible to change ones immune system so they don’t react to the allergens. This is called Immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy shots. They have been around for a while but now there are faster, safer and more effective Immunotherapy modalities. Recently introduced sublingual Immunotherapy allows using liquid drops in the mouth instead of shots.
As Dr Sharma puts it “the car you drive today looks nothing like the car your parents drove”.
Dr. Kusum Sharma is the Director, Allergy & Asthma Clinics at AKANE Institute of Allergy, Asthma & Sleep Medicine located in Scripps Ranch and La Jolla. She specializes in seasonal, food, drug, gluten, mold, cosmetic & skin allergy, asthma, sinus problems and hives.
Dr. Kusum Sharma
Dr Anoop Karippot is the Director, Snoring & Sleep Center at AKANE Institute of Allergy, Asthma & Sleep Medicine located in Scripps Ranch and La Jolla. He specializes in sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs,narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.
Dr. Anoop Karippot