Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

Halloween Hazards for Kids with Allergies and Asthma

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By Clifton Dennis, RRT, AE-C

Ghosts, ghouls, and goblins should be the only things scaring you and your kids during Halloween. Children with allergies and asthma should be able to fully participate in this fall holiday with some simple steps to decrease the chance of asthma and allergy attacks.

  1. Food allergies such as peanuts, eggs, tree nuts and milk can lead to asthma symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and shortness of breath. The best method to prevent these attacks is for parents to review the goodies their children received prior to allowing them to eat their treats to look for possible ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction. If you are aware of children in your neighborhood who suffer from food allergies, you may want to consider offering non-candy treats such as stickers, pencils or small toys.

  2. Costumes that have been stored away in the attic, basement or a closet may have dust, molds or dust mites since these are common in theses areas of storage. These triggers may lead to an asthma attack, so make sure to thoroughly clean costumes prior to use or consider purchasing new costumes. If you plan to recycle costumes completely, clean them and seal them in an airtight container.

  3. Watch out for nickel in costume accessories such as pirate swords, tiaras, and magic wands. Nickel is a common cause of contact dermatitis.

  4. Halloween masks may contain products like latex that could trigger an asthma attack. The small openings can make it difficult for children to breathe as they go from one house to the next. Full-face mask can become very hot and may trigger an asthma attack. Forgo the mask or use a half mask.

  5. Cheap Halloween makeup may include preservatives that can lead to allergic reactions. Instead use theater makeup and test it on a small patch of skin several days prior to Halloween since it may take a few days for allergic symptoms such as a rash or swelling to develop.

  6. Fog is a scary addition to any haunted house, but it can trigger an asthma attack in some children when inhaled.

  7. Pumpkin patches and hayrides can be great fun during this time of year, but both of these are dusty and moldy, which can be asthma triggers. Avoid hayrides and purchase pumpkins from the store.

  8. Fall air is brisk and invigorating. This same cold air can trigger an asthma attack in some children. Consider preventive measures such as a scarf or pre-treatment with a quick reliever prior to going out in cold weather.

  9. If your child has asthma or allergies, it is wise to always carry their quick reliever and/or their Epi-pen with them at all times.

Clifton Dennis is a pediatric lead respiratory therapist and certified asthma educator at Georgia Health Science-Children's Medical Center in Augusta, GA.

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