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Allergies and Halloween–Are They as Spooky as They Sound?

Halloween is just around the corner and stores are filling with candy, costumes and pumpkins to carve. While many people view Halloween as a time to dress up and go trick-or-treating without a care in the world, this is not the case for those with allergies!

Potential issues for those individuals with allergies:

  • Dress up: Halloween masks may be made from natural rubber latex. For those individuals with latex allergies, inspect those costumes closely. My friend had a costume that included a “feather boa” and quickly learned she had an allergy to feathers, when she wouldn’t stop sneezing until that boa was removed!
  • Late fall: airborne weed pollen and mold spores can still trigger “hay fever” or allergic rhinitis symptoms including: sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose and itchy, watery, red, puffy eyes. Or worse, yet, they can trigger an asthma attack, especially mold spores. This may be especially noticeable if walking through a “hay maze.”
  • Pumpkins: although unusual, pumpkin allergy is real. This can include the “flesh” or the seeds.
  • Trick-or-Treat: whenever food is being handed out, there is always a potential that a person may be allergic to an ingredient in the goodies. Allergies to milk, egg, wheat, peanut and nuts are among the most common food allergies, especially in children.

Can Halloween still be fun when you have allergies? Yes and here’s how!

Trick-or-Treat:

  •  Fill one bowl with “safe candy” and the other with non-food items. The trick-or-treater and parent can decide which item would be best for the trick-or-treater. Making every trick-or-treater feel included is important. A list of affordable non-food items includes: Pencils, pens, crayons (no erasers), bubbles, Slinkies,™ Bouncy balls (non-latex), finger puppets (non-latex), glow sticks and bracelets, bookmarks, spider rings and mini notepads
  • Be sure to carry your epinephrine auto-injector at all times if you/your child is at risk of anaphylaxis.
  • Enforce a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule so you can review food labels in detail.
  • Keep the emphasis on the “fun” rather than the candy. Encourage going “all out” for costumes.
  • Consider skipping trick-or-treating and have a costume party at your home with prizes and games. Skip the latex balloons and go for foil type, Mylar™. This may start a whole new tradition for you and your family!
  • Hand out pre-made safe goody bags to your neighbors prior to trick-or-treating and have the neighbors hand these bags to your child. This will make your child feel included in the fun without the worry!
  • Refrain from eating home-made items or individual foods that do not have food labels.
  • Always check the food label on an item even if you “think” it’s safe. This is a good opportunity for you and your child to do this together. https://www.foodallergy.org/about-fare/blog/tips-for-trick-or-treating-safely-on-halloween

Fall pollen and mold spore allergies:

  • Take a non-drowsy antihistamine at least 1 hour before tackling that hay maze or spending hours outdoors. Preferred non-prescription antihistamines for adults and children can include: Zyrtec®, Xyzal®, Claritin® and Allegra®.
  • After arriving home, change clothes and shower to remove pollen and fungal spores on your clothing and hair.

Latex allergy:

  • Choose your costume carefully, especially masks and body suits and look for labels that say “not made from natural rubber latex.” Spandex and Lycra should be safe.
  • Liquid latex for face painting and special effects may contain natural rubber latex. 3. Some latex allergic patients may also have food allergies, especially to banana, kiwi and avocado.

At Family Allergy & Asthma Care of Montana, we wish everyone a FUN and safe Halloween!!! Go ahead, decorate your home, avoid black cats, dress up and add a teal-colored pumpkin to your front step.  This shows trick-or-treaters you are offering non-food items. This is a part of the Teal Pumpkin Project. For more details, visit https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project.

Kudos to Carmen our medical assistant who authored this blog!

This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional.

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