Little girl and boy carving pumpkin at Halloween. Dressed up children trick or treating. Kids trick or treat. Child in witch costume playing in autumn park. Toddler kid with jack-o-lantern.

Your child is no doubt eager to scare up a memorable Halloween costume and go trick or treating. How to ensure it is safe for children – and grown-ups, too – who have asthma and allergies? What about COVID-19?

With a few simple precautions, Halloween can be a safe event for you and your children. Happy haunting!

COVID-19 and Halloween

What are some COVID-19 precautions for Halloween?

As the United States adapts to living with COVID-19, traditional activities such as Halloween are returning to normal.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is safe for children and adults to participate in the Halloween activity of trick-or-treating.

CDC recommends that trick or treaters don’t go inside houses for treats. They should also avoid large groups if possible. Stay 6 feet apart from others who are not in your immediate family.

Masks are optional depending on if there are a lot of reported COVID-19 cases in your area. If you or your child are at high risk for severe COVID-19, then it may be best to wear a mask.

If you have COVID-19 or suspect you may have it, you should not participate in Halloween activities and not pass out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Does a Halloween costume mask provide protection against COVID-19?

Halloween costume masks do not provide protection against COVID-19 unless they are made of two layers of breathable fabric and cover both the mouth and nose.

CDC does not recommend people wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it could make it hard to breathe.

Can I get together with family and friends for Halloween?

Anytime you get together with people, there is a risk of spreading or catching COVID-19. Before hosting or going to a get-together, CDC recommends you monitor the cases of COVID-19 in your region. If cases are high, then it may be best to hold off.

If COVID-19 cases are low, then CDC says it’s reasonably safe to get together in a small group. It is safest in an outdoor setting – a backyard party, a Halloween costume parade or a pumpkin patch, for example.

Similarly, going to a one-way, walk-through haunted forest is also safe with social distancing precautions. However, if screaming is likely to occur, greater social distancing may be necessary to lower the risk of spreading the virus.

If you choose to celebrate Halloween indoors (when outside is not an option), you may want to wear a mask. You may also want to keep windows and doors open to bring in fresh air. You can use a window fan in one of the rooms with open windows or doors. This will help blow air outside.

What are some low-risk Halloween activities?

Make Halloween a special time just for your family. Work in a framework that creates meaningful memories and avoids risky results. Here are some COVID-19 safe, family-friendly Halloween activities that don’t involve trick or treating:

  • Carve or decorate pumpkins and display them alongside other Halloween decorations. Show them off to neighbors or on social media.
  • Get dressed up and then host a virtual costume party with family and friends. Close out the night with a movie.
  • Try a Halloween scavenger hunt. Give children a list of Halloween-themed items to look for around your house or in your neighborhood, with a reward of candy when all items are found.

Food Allergies and Halloween

How can parents keep children with food allergies safe on Halloween?

Most Halloween candy contains common food allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk and egg. Baked goods may also contain wheat or soy.

Parents should inspect their children’s Halloween candy and check each label carefully. Federal law requires food labels — even mini-size candy bars — to list common allergens.

If one child in a family has food allergies and another does not, then be sure to separate out the candy with allergens so there’s no chance of an accidental exposure.

Do not try to guess if a candy contains an allergen. Call the manufacturer if you’re uncertain. If the label includes an advisory statement such as “May contain” for “Produced in a facility with,” there’s a chance the food allergen is present. Follow the advice of your healthcare provider — for most, avoiding these candies is the safest way to go.

Also be aware that snack size candies may not have the same ingredients or be made on the same production lines as the full-size counterparts. Therefore, read the labels cautiously, and if the ingredient information is not clearly labeled, do not allow your child to consume the candy.

What are some other Halloween safety measures for children with food allergies?

On Halloween night, pack epinephrine auto-injectors and a flashlight so that you’re prepared for anaphylaxis while trick-or-treating.

Consider putting together a Halloween route consisting of family, friends and neighbors and ask them to put allergy friendly Halloween candy or treats (apple, bubble gum, lollipops) in your child’s bag. Or request food-free alternatives to snacks and candy, such as crayons, temporary tattoos, stickers or novelty toys.

Don’t leave Halloween candy lying around your home or apartment where food-allergic children can easily find it.

Teach children to politely refuse offers of cookies, baked goods and other homemade treats (cupcakes, muffins) that may contain allergens.

Consider trading in the collected candy for other safe treats, prizes or rewards.

What should you do if a child experiences anaphylaxis after eating Halloween candy?

If your child has an accidental exposure to a food allergen and anaphylaxis symptoms occur, the first line of treatment is epinephrine.

This shot of adrenaline via an epinephrine auto-injector is safe, fast acting and helps treat the immune system’s response to the allergen.

Always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors – including on your Halloween route – in case a second reaction occurs. Seek follow-up medical care right away.

Can you be allergic to pumpkin?

There are reported cases of allergic reactions to pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, but these are very rare.

The pumpkin is part of the gourd family. It has shown to have cross reactivity with pollens, including ragweed which is common in the fall.

Reactions may occur not only from eating pumpkin bread, muffins or pies, but also when carving pumpkins.

Asthma and Halloween

How can I keep my asthma under control on Halloween?

Everything from chilly Halloween weather to fog machines could cause asthma symptoms to flare.

Dressing up is one of the best parts of Halloween fun, but before reusing old costumes stored away in your attic or basement, give them a thorough washing in hot water. They could be full of environmental allergens such as mold or dust mites.

On Halloween night, pack a quick-relief bronchodilator inhaler so that you’re prepared for an asthma flare if you go out trick-or-treating.

If it’s cold outside and you have asthma, wearing a scarf with breathable fabric (such as cotton) over the mouth and nose can warm and humidify the cold, dry air you breathe – and minimize the possibility of an asthma flare. However, wearing a scarf is not considered effective at filtering out COVID-19 viral particles. It is recommended you use a face mask to protect yourself against COVID-19. Do not put a scarf over the face mask as this may impact your breathing.

Avoid Halloween houses using fog machines, which are known to cause asthma flares. Don’t go into a neighbor’s house that might have a smoker or a pet – both are potential allergens.

Latex Allergy and Halloween

What are ways to prevent latex allergy during Halloween?

Many costumes and masks are manufactured using latex, the milky fluid from rubber trees.

Parents of children with latex allergy should verify what a costume or mask is made of before buying it or dressing up their child. A child with a latex allergy could have an allergic reaction to a Halloween mask made with latex. Check the product’s label for latex, but it may be best to contact the manufacturer directly. Ask for the consumer relations department.

Also, make sure the costume has a pocket wide enough to carry two epinephrine auto-injectors in case anaphylaxis symptoms occur.

Hosting or attending a Halloween party? Latex balloons are a trigger for severe allergic reactions for those with latex allergy. Nonlatex Mylar® balloons are safer alternatives.

Skin Allergies and Halloween

Can makeup cause an allergic reaction?

An allergic reaction to Halloween makeup is possible, says the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).

Some makeup may contain preservatives, including formaldehyde, which can cause a rash, swelling of the skin or breathing problems. Read the product’s label and check the packaging for any warnings.

Test the makeup on a very small area of the skin – such as the back of the hand or the inner wrist – well in advance of Halloween. If a rash or any abnormality occurs, do not use the makeup, ACAAI advises.

Also, keep an eye on costume accessories such as crowns, wands or faux jewelry that may contain nickel or cobalt, which can cause allergic reactions.

Hosting or attending a Halloween party? Latex balloons are a trigger for severe allergic reactions for those with latex allergy. Nonlatex Mylar® balloons are safer alternatives.

Skin allergies and Halloween 

 

Can makeup cause an allergic reaction?

An allergic reaction to Halloween makeup is possible, says the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).

Some makeup may contain preservatives, including formaldehyde, which can cause a rash, swelling of the skin or breathing problems. Read the product’s label and check the packaging for any warnings.

Test the makeup on a very small area of the skin – such as the back of the hand or the inner wrist – well in advance of Halloween. If a rash or any abnormality occurs, do not use the makeup, ACAAI advises.

Also, keep an eye on costume accessories such as crowns, wands or faux jewelry that may contain nickel or cobalt, which can cause allergic reactions.