By Heather Legg
Recently my dog got a new bed, one that smells great and is full of cedar shavings. Lo and behold, what do you know, after my daughter played with her on the new bed, she (my daughter, not the dog) broke out in hives. It was the cedar. She was fine with some Benadryl and we’ll switch out the bed to a non cedar stuffed one, and chalk it up to a lesson learned. I did some research, though, and it’s interesting what I found.
Cedar, apparently, is one of the most allergy causing trees, pollens, and shavings around. One site pointed out that people use it to control moths, in other words, kill moths. If it kills moths, it obviously has some pretty lethal tendencies. The trees are causing quite the problems in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. It is a major source of allergies in Japan as well. There is even an active organization, People Against Cedars.
Exposure to cedar wood is documented as an occupational hazard among timber workers. The culprit is plicatic acid which can cause asthma and other respiratory complications. That can be the cause of allergies that people have to cedar shavings and cedar chests.
Animals have also been documented to have cedar allergeis. In my reading, I found that many animals like mice and gerbils who have cedar shavings in their cages develop rashes or hair loss due to the cedar shavings. When it’s switched to pine, the symptoms go away.
Here’s another story about my daughter’s cedar allergy:
My kids always help my in-laws decorate their Christmas tree around Thanksgiving. My in-laws have been using an artificial tree for as long as I can remember. This year, however, they wanted to go cut one and have a fresh one. Living in the south, the tree farms where you cut your own have cedar trees – pretty sort of lacy branched trees with longer feathery needles. We all went to do that and it was a fun family outing. The tree went up and I noticed my daughter sneezing a little bit. She started to help decorate and sneezed some more, then sort of gave up on the decorating, which she usually loves.
We were spending the night there and the room where she sleeps is very close to the family room with the tree. When she woke up this morning, her eyes looked swollen, her nose was itchy and she said her throat felt funny, not swollen but sort of itchy. Hmmmm, sounds like an allergy to me.
I wasn’t worried because the itch in her throat sounded like an drainage itch, nothing swelling. I knew that she hadn’t eaten anything she’s allergic. It was the tree. The cedar tree.
My daughter is very conscientious and sensitive and made my husband and me promise not to tell my mother-in-law that she was allergic to the tree. She was afraid her grandmother would get rid of it immediately (even though we probably won’t be there again while it’s up). She probably would have, too.
As soon as she went outside to play, she seemed to feel better. In other words, as soon as she got away from the tree she seemed to feel better! It’s a beautiful tree, delicate and Christmasy, but I know one thing – we won’t be getting a cedar tree for our Christmas tree!
It always surprises when I see or hear of a “new” allergy. It shouldn’t, though. We hear of the major food allergies a lot and of ragweed and mold, but there are plenty of other culprits out there to be wary of. If you notice yourself or someone in your family displaying allergy symptoms, it’s caused from something. Use your good detective skills and you find the answer.