Everyone loves a good scare around Halloween, but for families with asthma and/or skin and food allergies, a holiday celebrated with copious amounts of candy and preservatives can be especially frightening.
This Halloween, put your family’s safety first and follow these simple tips to avoid getting spooked by allergies:
- If your child has a food allergy or eats a gluten-free diet, discard any food/candy that does not come with a label. Special Halloween candies may have different ingredients compared to regular-sized versions. Remember, “When in doubt, throw it out!”
- For those allergic to nuts, the warning “may contain nuts” must always be taken seriously. Even small amounts of peanut or nut protein may be left behind during food processing.
- Keep safe snacks on hand to avoid temptation. This is especially important during the holidays, including the night before Halloween. Additionally, pumpkin carving and other non-food based activities may be a good idea for fun-filled activities that are safe.
- If you or your child has sensitive skin, suffering from eczema or a skin allergy, have your allergist or dermatologist do a pre-exposure patch test. This will help prevent an allergic reaction if your child is using a facial cosmetic or wash-a-way face paint for his or her costume.
- Make sure Halloween masks are not too tight, particularly on those with asthma.
- Use reflective tape on Halloween clothes and bags to improve safety and increase visibility during the evening hours.
- If your child has asthma or food allergies, always keep a prescribed asthma rescue inhaler and/or epinephrine autoinjector close by.
- Utilize non-food items such as stickers and small child-safe novelties in lieu of candy for those children with strong food allergies.
- Find an allergist near your home for optimal evaluation and care before Halloween if you suspect your child has asthma, skin allergies or a food allergy.
There’s no reason why children of all ages can’t enjoy Halloween safely – but for those with allergies, these simple guidelines will help to reduce the likelihood the day doesn’t turn into a real fright-fest. Plan ahead!
Dr. Clifford Bassett is an adult and pediatric allergy specialist, and diplomate of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. He is the medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY and author of "The New Allergy Solution: Super-Charge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering." Bassett is a clinical assistant professor of medicine and on the teaching faculty of NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center, and faculty at Cornell University Medical College. Follow him on Twitter.