Halloween means crisp fall air, pumpkins and trick-or-treating. But for adults and kids who manage asthma and allergies, even the best parts of Halloween – like treats, costumes and decorations – can be frightful triggers. Knowing how to avoid triggers can reduce stress and minimize the chances of a food allergy reaction or an asthma attack. Here are our tips to make your Halloween safer.
Know What Is Safe to Eat
For most kids, Halloween is all about treats and candy! For kids with food allergies, this often means being excluded from the fun and being extra cautious around unsafe treats.
- Plan ahead and communicate with others to prevent, recognize and treat a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis).
- Remind everyone that it's important to read labels and avoid cross contact of allergens.
- Review your child's Anaphylaxis Action Plan with caregivers and give them a copy of the Babysitter Drop Off Form. If your child is older, they can help communicate with their friends and families.
- Look for houses with teal pumpkins or Teal Zone posters which mean they have non-food treats available.
- Use our Trick-or-Treat Food Allergy Safety Checklist to make sure you are prepared.
Check Costumes and Accessories
Kids look forward to dressing up as their favorite superhero, princess or zombie all year! And so do many adults. Be sure that costume pieces and accessories are not allergy or asthma triggers.
- Some masks and costumes may contain latex, nickel and other allergens. Carefully read the labels on costumes and accessories.
- Avoid masks and costume pieces that are stored for long periods of time because they can collect dust mites and other allergens in storage. Even new costumes can carry dust mites, so make sure to wash them before wearing.
- Check any makeup, face paints, hairspray or other products for allergens. Some of these things can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive people.
Avoid Allergy and Asthma Triggers
Dealing with allergies or asthma can spoil a fun night. If you or your child has asthma, remember to carry a quick-relief inhaler. Review your Asthma Action Plan and your doctor's instructions about pre-treating before potentially being exposed to asthma triggers.
- Piles of leaves and hay bales can have mold spores and pollen that may trigger allergies or asthma.
- Other people's homes may have cigarette smoke, dust or pet dander that could trigger allergies or asthma.
- Scented candles and room fresheners can be asthma triggers. Use battery-operated candles to light up luminaries or jack-o'-lanterns.
- Dry ice and fog machines help set a spooky mood, but both can make breathing difficult, even for those without asthma.
- Spooky drinks or treats made with liquid nitrogen or dry ice nitrogen may trigger asthma in sensitive people.
- Being scared can be a fun Halloween tradition, but strong emotions like fear or excitement can be asthma triggers. Avoid scary situations and ensure your child takes all of their asthma medicines as prescribed.
- Running from house to house while trick-or-treating or playing active games can trigger exercise-induced asthma. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions about pre-treating before exercise.
- A crisp fall night can expose you to dramatic changes in temperature, especially if you are going from a warm environment to a cold one. Wear a scarf over your mouth and nose to help reduce the effects of the cold air.