Don't Let A Food Allergy Scare You — 3 Tips For Halloween Safety

Skele­tons, jack‑o’-lanterns, and cob­webs can all help set a spooky scene for the Hal­loween sea­son. While haunt­ed hous­es and a hor­ror movie might be fun and spooky, an aller­gic reac­tion can make things down­right scary.

Your child might be excit­ed to choose their cos­tume and plan their trick-or-treat­ing route, but you may find your­self more wor­ried about their food aller­gy or poten­tial exposure. 

Food Aller­gies in The US

  • While the num­ber 13 might send a Hal­loween shiv­er down your spine, 1 in 13 chil­dren actu­al­ly have a food allergy.

  • A com­mon aller­gen to look out for in Hal­loween can­dy is peanuts — and more than 1.8 mil­lion kids are aller­gic to them. 

If you’re already think­ing about how to han­dle Hal­loween and your child’s peanut or oth­er aller­gies, you’re doing the right thing — and you may have more options than you think. Here are 3 ways you and your child can cel­e­brate the Hal­loween sea­son safe­ly while keep­ing their food aller­gy in mind.

1. Life is Ghoul’d — When You Have An Aller­gy Response Plan

Even when doing your best to avoid aller­gens, the most prepa­ra­tion can­not keep all expo­sures from hap­pen­ing. While you want your child to par­tic­i­pate ful­ly in Hal­loween activ­i­ties, you don’t want to put them in a dan­ger­ous situation.

Pri­or to going trick-or-treat­ing or attend­ing a Hal­loween par­ty at a friend’s house, have a plan in place in case of seri­ous aller­gen expo­sure. Your child’s pedi­a­tri­cian or aller­gist can help you cre­ate a step-by-step response plan for when your child expe­ri­ences an aller­gic reac­tion. You can have your child keep a copy of the appro­pri­ate response and give it to their teach­ers, coach­es, or a friend’s parent.

Your child’s aller­gy response plan might also include the use of an epi­neph­rine autoin­jec­tor, com­mon­ly called an EpiPen. An EpiPen can help slow down the life-threat­en­ing effects of a severe aller­gic reac­tion (ana­phy­lax­is).

Just like you’ll car­ry a flash­light and cell phone on Hal­loween night, be sure to add your child’s EpiPen to the list, too. If you or your child has to admin­is­ter their EpiPen, call 911 immediately.

To make sure your child’s aller­gy response plan is up-to-date for Hal­loween, meet with a Duly Health And Care Aller­gy Spe­cial­ist today.

2. Bone” Appetit — But Not While You Trick-Or-Treat 

It might sound obvi­ous, but read all labels on the can­dy and treats your child brings home — and encour­age your child to do the same. 

This can be dif­fi­cult when it comes to fun-size Hal­loween can­dies which don’t always have the ingre­di­ents print­ed on the wrap­per. It’s bet­ter to wait till you get home from trick-or-treat­ing to look through your child’s can­dy haul. This can give you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to sort through the can­dy they col­lect­ed and be very care­ful about which are safe for them to eat. 

For exam­ple, if your child is aller­gic to peanuts, remove any can­dy that includes peanuts in their ingre­di­ent list or warn­ing such as may con­tain peanuts” or man­u­fac­tured in a facil­i­ty that process­es peanuts.” Also, keep your eye out for any­thing that says class­room-safe” or even aller­gy-free.” This can some­times be a mar­ket­ing tool and not an actu­al indi­ca­tion that the can­dy is allergy-safe.

3. Creep It Real — With Replace­ment Hal­loween Treats 

It can be tough to go trick-or-treat­ing and get lots of can­dies you can’t even eat. Some can­dies that may nor­mal­ly be free of a par­tic­u­lar aller­gen may not be safe for your child in its fun-size form. But trick-or-treat­ing can still be fun — and there can still be Hal­loween treats in store for your child. 

After going trick-or-treat­ing and remov­ing any can­dies your child can’t safe­ly eat, you can replace them with oth­er food items (such as crack­ers or marsh­mal­lows) or Hal­loween toys. Spi­der rings, squishy eye­balls, or oth­er Hal­loween décor can be a great non-food treat that your child can enjoy.

In addi­tion to check­ing all the labels when you get home, it’s also a good idea for every­one to wash their hands. Many non-severe aller­gies, like a peanut aller­gy, prob­a­bly won’t cause a reac­tion through sim­ple skin con­tact. But if your child touch­es their nose, mouth, or eyes while hav­ing aller­gen traces on their hand, an aller­gic reac­tion could occur. Hand­wash­ing is also the num­ber one method of pre­vent­ing oth­er illnesses! 

You can also fin­ish your night by bak­ing or mak­ing a craft with your child. Paint­ing a pump­kin or mak­ing aller­gy-safe treats can be a great way to spend time with your child and make sure they have an awe­some Hal­loween experience.

Hap­py Trick-Or-Treating! 

While you may wor­ry about your child’s food aller­gy all year long, it might feel a lit­tle scari­er around Hal­loween. Keep­ing up on rou­tine vis­its with your child’s pedi­a­tri­cian or aller­gist all year long can help you feel pre­pared, espe­cial­ly when the hol­i­days roll around. 

When you feel like you have a plan and know what steps to take to min­i­mize your child’s risk, they can still get in on all of the Hal­loween fun. 

Health Topics:

  • I strive to make each visit enjoyable for the child and meaningful and personal for the parents. I try to use evidence-based pediatric medicine wherever applicable and educate parents along the way so they are empowered with the knowledge needed to best take care of their young ones.