When it comes to allergies, most of the focus at Halloween is on food and treats. However, celebrating this spooky event actually opens the door to all kinds of potential allergy triggers. Being alert to possible allergens and planning ahead can make Halloween a safe experience for trick-or-treaters of all ages.
Allergies and the Outdoor Environment During Halloween
There are several things to be aware of concerning the outdoor environment during the trick-or-treat event:
- Raking leaves to fill decorative garbage bags can stir up molds and fungi. To counteract this, the bags can be filled while the allergic individual is not present or the bags can be filled with some other material.
- In some areas, where the climate is milder, ragweed can present a problem for hay fever sufferers. The parent should follow the current medical plan for her child.
- If the actual Halloween evening is mild and damp, those allergic to molds and fungi may experience symptoms. Again, the parent should follow any medical guidelines already in place.
- If costumes and decorations brought inside are wet from being outside, they should be dried immediately to avoid mold forming.
- When used for decorating, dried outdoor plants, wood and soil may bring outdoor allergens such as molds, fungi and pollens inside.
Allergies and Halloween Costume Materials and Decorations
For allergy sufferers who experience skin problems, the materials used in costumes and decorations for Halloween can be a minefield of potential allergens:
- Halloween costumes and masks may contain materials that will trigger an allergic reaction. Latex is particularly risky for some allergy sufferers. Costume labels should be read carefully. If there is doubt, the manufacturer should be contacted. A homemade costume is the safest way to avoid dangerous materials.
- Costume make-up can cause a skin reaction for people who have eczema or are allergic to certain substances. Contact dermatitis can be avoided by using no make-up or a trusted hypo-allergenic product.
- The material in Halloween decorations may contain potential allergy triggers. Again, label reading is essential and when in doubt, the manufacturer can be contacted.
- Some Halloween costumes and decorations even give off an odor, which is a potential allergen for those who are sensitive to scents.
- Halloween craft materials may contain potential triggers for scent or skin sensitivities.
Allergies and Halloween Party Foods and Treats
Halloween party foods and treats can be dangerous for people with food allergies. This spooky event is especially risky for children. However, there are ways to ensure a safe celebration:
- The parent of an allergic child can work with the child’s teacher or group leader to plan a safe Halloween party or event.
- Safe treats can be distributed to neighbors to be given out to the allergic child. (It is important to note that the treat-sized candy and chocolate bars do not always contain the same ingredients as their larger counterparts. As well, the smaller sizes do not always list ingredients. When in doubt, throw it out!)
- A Halloween party or event can be hosted at the allergy sufferer’s home, allowing for control over the food on offer.
- If an allergic child goes out to tour the neighborhood for treats, she should be accompanied by at least one adult who knows what to do in an emergency.
- Younger children may be more content with small toys and fun items. Older children may be allowed to trade unsafe treats for safe treats. No matter what plan a parent decides on, all treats must be checked by an adult who understands the child’s allergy needs.
- If the child is allowed to eat a meal or large snack right before trick-or-treating she will be less tempted to try a treat without having it checked first. The allergic child can also carry a couple of safe treats in her pocket to help resist the temptation of unsafe treats. Allergic adults going to events might want to consider these tips, as well.
- Halloween events and activities are no different than any other situation for an allergic individual – emergency medication should be kept on hand at all times. There should be an accompanying individual who knows what to do if such an emergency arises.
Halloween can be a tricky time for allergy sufferers of all categories. However, being on the alert for possible allergens and taking steps to avoid a potentially dangerous situation can keep the celebration safe and fun for everyone involved.