Allergies & Halloween Make an Appointment Refer a Patient Ask a Question Reviewed by Anna K. Meyer, MD, PhD (September 18, 2021) During Halloween festivities, food allergies can be a major source of concern for parents and children. 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 and unlabeled candy and by 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. Make sure your child waits to eat candy until you have checked the ingredients. Perhaps, slip a few safe snacks into your children's trick-or-treat bags to help them avoid eating food that hasn't been checked and approved by you. No label, no eat Closely examine the food for any signs of tampering and the labels for any ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction. Food allergies affect more than 4 million American children, according to American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Smaller candy labels often don't have room for an ingredients list. If you don't have a label you can read, toss it, unless you can look up the specific candy's ingredient list online. Children with food allergies should only eat candy where the ingredients have been verified. As always, children with food allergies must have their epinephrine auto injectors with them in case there is a systemic allergic reaction. Hypoallergenic makeup Grease or face paints can be problematic for a child whose skin is easily irritated. Hypoallergenic face paints are the best option 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. 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 have symptoms. Common asthma triggers are cool air, running, dust, weed pollen, or even emotions. Check with a child's doctor about pre-treating with asthma medication before trick-or-treating if these weather and emotional conditions arise. Be Prepared for Emergencies Always carry liquid or chew tab antihistamine and epinephrine with you if it was prescribed for your child’s food allergies, and a rescue inhaler if prescribed for asthma. Ideas for the Treat Basket Here is a list of treats as a reference for food-allergic children that includes food and non-food items. Non-food items are the safest for children with food allergies. We encourage you have nut-free, milk-free and egg-free options. Please read labels and be aware of the ingredients in case a trick or treater (or parent) asks about the candy. Non Food Treats Edible Treats Pencils Crayons Rings Glow in the dark necklaces, rings, etc. Tops (spinning) Fun sunglasses Small toys Hair bands Barrettes Puzzle booklets Handheld puzzles Yo-yos Altoids Air Heads - W Blow pops * Bottlecaps Circus Peanuts Double Bubble Gum Dum-Dum suckers Fruit cups, Fruit snacks Gummi candy Hot tamales Jolly Ranchers candies Junior Mints* Laffy Taffy - S Life Savers Marshmallows by Kraft Mike & Ike’s - à Milk Duds – D, S Necco candy Nerds / Nerds Rope ‡ PASCHA Chocolate Peeps - à Pixie Sticks - à Pop Rocks - L Raisin boxes Red Vines - W Ring Pops Rolos – D, S Runts Sixlets – D, S Skittles Smarties Sour Patch Kids - S Spree - E Starburst Swedish Fish Sweet Tarts Tootsie Pops D, S Tootsie Rolls – D, S Twizzlers licorice –S, W (black) Whoppers – D, S, W York Peppermint Candy – D, E, S Zours - à D = Dairy E = Egg L = Lactose S = Soy W = Wheat * incidental dairy, egg may be present ‡ = processed in a facility that may process or package, dairy, egg or wheat à Check packaging for allergy statement Non Food Treats Instead of candy, you can offer age-appropriate non-food items such as: Pencils Crayons Rings Glow in the dark necklaces, rings, etc. Tops (spinning) Fun sunglasses Small toys Hair bands Barrettes Puzzle booklets Handheld puzzles Yo-yos Teal Pumpkin Consider putting a teal pumpkin on the doorstep or sign on the door to let trick-or-treaters know that you have allergy-safe treat options. More about the Teal Pumpkin Project. If you want to limit candy consumption Here are some ways to let them eat candy without going overboard: Allow children to each one or two pieces a day for a week (toss the remaining candy). Let children eat one piece of candy a day for a month. Have your children pick out 10 pieces of candy to keep and eat over the next several weeks, then trade in the rest of the candy for a small toy ($5 to $10). Let the child eat as much candy as he/she wants on Halloween night only. Stay Safe from Infections Remember that a large portion of our trick-or-treaters are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. Carry hand sanitizer with you to use frequently. 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