Return to Previous Page

Don’t Let Allergies & Asthma Haunt Halloween Fun

Allergy and Asthma image

Halloween can be a frightful time for parents of kids with allergies & 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 Halloweenassociated allergies, they focus on candy and often overlook many other potential triggers,” says Myron Zitt, md, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “By planning ahead, you can ensure not only safe treats, but also safe costumes, makeup, accessories, and decorations.”

Watch 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 like chocolate that can hide triggers. Gummy bears and other seemingly innocent candies may contain gelatin, a potential allergen that 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-ortreating fun.

3 Haunted Hand-Me-Downs
Halloween costumes packed away in a box for months can be laden with dust mites, which trigger allergies & asthma. 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 people.

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.


Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology,

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, September/October 2011.