Bwahahahah. Haunted houses, witches, goblins and ghosts – lots of people love the shivers down the spine and scares that come along with Halloween. What’s definitely not so fun for parents of kids with food allergies are the potential dangers lurking in Halloween candy and party treats In addition, children with asthma and other allergies can be at risk during “treat season.”
Many kids look forward to Halloween for the costumes and trick-or-treating. According to the American College of Allergy, and Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), you have to take into account kids who have food allergies, as well as kids with asthma, when planning your celebrations. There are very specific dangers they face, and prevention can go a long way towards keeping them safe.
ACAAI offers six helpful tips to keep in mind as you prepare your spook-tacular festivities. Boo!
- Eats before Treats – One way to prevent kids from gorging themselves on Halloween candy without reading the ingredients first is to feed them dinner before they go trick-or-treating. They’ll be less tempted to stick their hands in the candy bag before they get home to check their loot with mom and dad.
- Don’t be Scared, be Prepared – Parents of allergic kids shouldn’t leave the house without their cell phone, emergency epinephrine and wet wipes. Ask friends who trick-or-treat with you to please not eat candy that can cause an allergic reaction. If they do, ask them to clean hands with the wet wipes. Make sure kids are taking their controller medications and keep a reliever inhaler handy in case of an asthma flare after running through moldy leaves.
- Wait Till you’re Home for Candy – or Other Treats – If you’d rather not sort through the candy to determine “safe” vs. “unsafe” there are some alternatives:
- Give neighbors safe Halloween treats in advance to hand out to your food allergic child.
- Give age-appropriate, non-food items to your children. Ideas include coloring books, storybooks, pencils, stickers, stuffed animals, toys, cash and play dough.
- Try a variation of the Tooth Fairy. Sort through unsafe candy, then leave it in a safe spot for a “Sugar Sprite” or “Candy Fairy” who exchanges it for a small gift, toy or money.
- Dress for Success – and Spooking! – If you’re crafty and can make your child’s costume at home, you can include extras for a child with allergies. If hand-to-food contact can spur an allergic reaction, make a costume with a pair of scary gloves. That way, if your little goblin makes contact with dangerous foods, they will have an extra layer of protection. If your child suffers from eczema or another allergenic skin reaction, use hypoallergenic make up. Better yet, steer clear of make-up entirely. Beware of store-bought costumes which can contain latex and other synthetic dyes that may cause irritation or an allergic reaction.
- Ghost Hunting can be Fun Too – Plan an alternate activity, such as going to the movies, hosting a slumber party, or having a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood for safe treats or other items. Some malls, health organizations and local libraries now host candy-free trick-or-treat nights.
- Make Sure it’s only Witches Taking your Breath Away – Children should never walk into someone’s home they don’t know, but children with allergies and asthma should be cautious around pets, and never enter any home with smokers. Those are triggers that can cause an asthma attack. For easier breathing, avoiding costumes with masks is best. Put costumes and decorations away in sealable plastic containers. As a precaution against dust, wash any costumes that have been used before and stored. Remember that outside exposure to dead leaves and grass that contain mold at this time of year may trigger symptoms.
For more information about seasonal allergies, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.
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 AAllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.