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Five tips to scare away spooky health hazards

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (September 28, 2012) An unwanted cavity in your child s sweet tooth isn t the only health concern that haunts the Halloween season. Hidden health hazards can be lurking not only in candy, but in costumes, haunted houses and jack-o-lanterns, especially when little ghosts and goblins have allergies and asthma.

Parents that have a child with a food allergy know to carefully inspect Halloween candy, but they may overlook other common holiday items that can cause allergy and asthma symptoms, said allergist Stanley Fineman, MD, president of the American College of allergy, Asthma and Immunology. There are several steps parents should take to ensure their child remains healthy and symptom-free no matter the season.

The allergists at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) compiled the following list of the common Halloween allergens with tips on how to avoid them.

  • Bloodcurdling Scream to Frightening Wheeze Haunted houses may be scary fun, but they can cause real-life fright if your child can t breathe easily. Excitement and anxiety provoked by zombies, ghouls and goblins can sometimes trigger asthma symptoms if your child s asthma isn t properly controlled. Running from house to house in search of treats can also trigger symptoms. If your child has asthma or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) be sure they carry emergency medicine, such as a quick-relief inhaler, and use it regularly as prescribed to prevent symptoms.
  • The Land of Milk and Stuffy Halloween is a tricky time if your child has food allergies, especially to peanuts. But dairy, wheat and eggs are also common allergens found in different candies and other Halloween treats. Read product labels carefully before letting you child indulge in their sweets. Also, if you suspect your little one has a food allergy, make sure to see an allergist for testing to identify all of your child s triggers far in advance of Halloween festivities.
  • Petrifying Pumpkins Jack-o-lanterns might be more than just a scary face if you have an allergy to pumpkin. Although a pumpkin allergy is rare, it can develop at any time, suggests research from the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Anything from carving a pumpkin or munching on seeds can cause an allergic reaction with symptoms that can include chest tightness, hives and vomiting. If you experience symptoms, tell your allergist.
  • Horrifying Wardrobe Malfunctions From the dusty clown costume that was retrieved from the attic to the mask made of latex to the nickel in jewelry, swords and other accessories, Halloween dress up can be a landmine of allergy and asthma triggers. Dress your allergic child wisely. Some kids also have contact dermatitis which can be caused from the preservatives in makeup. If you re not sure what triggers your child s allergies, see an allergist who can help pinpoint the problem.
  • Menacing Mold - While jumping through piles of leaves can be tempting for your little one as they are trick-or-treating, it can also be harmful. Molds, such as Alternaria, are commonly found on leaves this time of year and can cause severe asthma attacks. Running through leaves can cause mold to stir into the air, resulting in high exposure. Plan ahead and talk with your allergist about seasonal allergy and asthma triggers, and how they can be avoided.

Allergies and asthma are serious diseases, that when left untreated, can be dangerous. If parents suspect their child has one of these conditions, they should make an appointment with a board-certified allergist to develop a treatment plan that may go beyond over-the-counter medications. For more information and to find an allergist, visit


The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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