As the holidays approach, many children, especially those with allergies, experience seasonal respiratory flare ups, but food allergies are the major source of concern. For parents with a child who has allergies, many holidays can pose allergy-related concerns, but Halloween can be particularly worrisome. Trick-or-treating can be an activity built upon weeks of anticipation in kids and apprehension in adults.
However, it doesn't have to be so stressful. Learn how to make it fun and worry-free for everyone involved by avoiding certain costume materials, unlabeled candy, and following other allergy-conscious tips.
Separating 'Tricks' from 'Treats' on Halloween
On Halloween, separating the "tricks" from the "treats" can sometimes be difficult for parents of children with asthma and allergies, and even for parents of kids who don't have either disease. Face paints, candy and other foods all may pose potential health hazards for kids with allergies and asthma.
Avoid the unknown and have a safe alternative
Kids will want to eat the candy immediately. Tell your child to come home first so that you can check the ingredients. Perhaps, slip a few safe snacks into children's trick-or-treat bags to help them avoid eating food that hasn't been checked by parents.
No label, no eat
Once a child has brought the candy home, closely examine the food for any signs of tampering and the labels for any ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction. Allergies to peanut and/or tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds and cashews, affect about 3 million Americans, according to American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Physically smaller candy labels often don't have room for an ingredients list. If you don't have a label you can read, toss it. Let children with food allergies eat only candy that has a clearly marked ingredient list.
Grease or face paints can be problematic for a child whose skin is easily irritated. Hypoallergenic face paints are the best to combat this. Also, make sure that the paints wash off easily. If the child has eczema, chronic red and itchy skin, avoid face and grease paint altogether.
With colored hair spray, make sure you don't spray toward the face and use it in a well-ventilated area because it can be very irritating for the eyes and respiratory tract.
Consider pretreatment for asthma
As the night of Halloween approaches and children become excited, those with asthma may begin to show symptoms. Emotions, such as excitement, can actually trigger an asthma attack in some children. Other triggers are cool air and dust that could be kicked up if it's a windy night. Check with a child's doctor about pre-treating with asthma medication before trick-or-treating if these weather and emotional conditions arise.
Take the Halloween Safety Quiz for more tips on having a safe Halloween.