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Contact: Sara Brazealmedia@acaai.org312-558-1770


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill (October 1, 2011) Halloween can be a frightful time for parents of kids with allergies and asthma. Nut-filled candy isn t the only bogeyman that can ruin the fun. Allergy and asthma triggers can hide in other, unexpected places, too, from dusty costumes to leering jack-o-lanterns.

When people think of Halloween-associated allergies, they focus on candy and often overlook many other potential triggers, said Myron Zitt, M.D., past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). By planning ahead, you can ensure not only safe treats, but also safe costumes, make up, accessories, and decorations.

The ACAAI and its allergist members doctors who are experts at diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma suggest watching out for these six sneaky triggers to keep Halloween sneeze-, wheeze- and reaction-free.

1. Tricky treats Food allergy triggers abound on this candy-filled holiday, and it s not just the usual suspects such as chocolate that can hide triggers. An article published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows gummy bears and other seemingly innocent candies may contain gelatin, a potential allergen which is a less common trigger. Your best bet? Consider taking your child to an allergist for allergy testing and help in developing a food allergy treatment plan. For Halloween night, have some non-candy treats for your child such as stickers, pencils and small toys to swap for sweets.

2. Devilish costume details Watch out for nickel in costume accessories, from cowboy belts and pirate swords to tiaras and magic wands. Nickel is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis, which can make skin itchy and spoil trick-or-treating fun.

3. Haunted hand-me-downs Halloween costumes packed away in a box for months can be laden with dust mites, which trigger asthma and allergies. So unless you want your little one sneezing or wheezing from house to house, wash the hand-me-down costumes in hot water. Or consider visiting the store for a new costume.

4. Menacing makeup Cheap Halloween makeup may include preservatives that can cause allergic reactions. Instead, opt for higher quality theater makeup. Because it can take a few days for a rash, swelling or other reaction to appear, test the makeup on a small area of skin well in advance of Halloween.

5. Frightful fog If you re considering renting a fog machine to make your house extra spooky, think again. Fog real or man-made can trigger asthma in some sufferers.

6. Perilous pumpkins Beware of pumpkin carving and pumpkin pie if you think you might be allergic. Pumpkin allergies, though rare, can cause everything from itching to chest tightness and can pop up quite suddenly, even if you haven t had a problem before. And keep in mind that pumpkin patches are often moldy and dusty, allergy and asthma triggers for some. Consider buying a pumpkin from a grocery or discount store.

Concerned that you or your child might have allergies or asthma? For more information on asthma and allergies in children, or to find an allergist near you, visit


The ACAAI is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, 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.

Consumers can take a simple online test to gauge their asthma symptoms, obtain a personalized plan on how to get relief and find an allergist at


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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