Halloween Allergies 

 

 

October is here again, and Halloween is creeping up on us! We’re suddenly spotting new and exciting spooky sweets on the shop shelves and festive treats throughout the stores and we must stop ourselves from feasting on them until Halloween!
Halloween is an exciting time of the year, when people of all ages plan Halloween costumes, parties, tricks and treats! Candy and sweet treats have become a huge part of Halloween culture with new flavours of sweets and chocolates released each year.  However, Halloween can be a difficult time for families managing food allergies. Many traditional Halloween treats are not safe for individuals with severe food allergies. Therefore allergic individuals need to be careful during this time of year but that doesn’t mean they have to miss out on all the Halloween fun!
I have outlined steps below to help keep Halloween a positive ad fun experience for all! 

 

 

 

TREATS 

  • Simple well-known brands
  • Keep the wrappers and packaging of all treats
  • Allergy Information on Halloween ‘fun sized’ treats may differ from regular size
  • Buy packets of treats with individually wrapped treats inside (eg. individual packets of crisps, sweets)
  • Check ingredients on all treats and crisps (Certain brands may have a nut flavour edition)
  • Call guests with allergies in advance to ask what treats they feel safe with

 

Having sweets at Halloween is inevitable, with or without food allergies! We all should know ourselves what is safe for us to eat but others are often oblivious to the foods that may contain potential allergens.  
When it comes to buying treats for Halloween, whether a family member has or hasn’t an allergy, it is always safest to buy the simple, well known brands so that someone can easily recognise them such as; Cadburys, Galaxy, MAOAM sweets and that each sweet is covered with a wrapper as this will reduce cross contamination. 
Try to keep the wrappers and packaging of the treats so that on the day, if anyone is unsure, they can read the ingredient labels for the sweets. Be aware that the allergy information for Halloween edition ‘fun size’ sweets may differ from the regular-size bars.
When buying a multipack of crisps or popcorn ensure to get the packet with individuals packets inside so they don’t touch any other food and reduce cross-contact with other food sitting out. Always make sure to check the ingredients on crisps packets as now with even more flavours a particular brand may have a nut flavoured edition and therefore they may be a risk of cross contamination on the factory’s equipment. 
If you are expecting particular guests who may have allergies, call them to get an understanding of what exactly they can eat and provide those treats.  
By taking these precautions when buying Halloween treats for yourself, family, friends or trick and treaters, you could prevent an allergic reaction and potentially save a person’s life.  
The most important thing is to keep an open dialogue regarding your allergies, ensuring that the host asks their guests if they have any allergies and the allergic person informs the host.  
If buying treats for trick and treaters, see the next point below about the Teal Pumpkin Project. 
 

 

 

 

TRICK OR TREATING AND THE TEAL PUMPKIN 

Traditionally, we look forward to the sweets and treats at Halloween, however now with the Teal Pumpkin Project, we can also look forward to non-food treats.
The Teal Project started in America in 2012 when the director of the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) decided to paint a pumpkin teal, the colour of food allergy awareness and hand out non-food items as treats. This helped to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes the safety, inclusion and respect of individuals with allergies. This gradually became more popular and in 2014, FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) promoted the idea as the ‘Teal Pumpkin Project’.
This project means you can offer food-item treats along with food treats to trick or treaters. Simply place a teal painted pumpkin outside your house to let families know you are offering non-food treats. I advise all families to join in on this project even if their children do not have food allergies as others in the neighbourhood might and it encourages safety, inclusion and respect of individuals with allergies.
Some examples of Non-food treats are;  
  • Stickers 
  • Glow Sticks 
  • Pencils/pens 
  • Eraser  
  • Sharpener 
  • Bouncy Balls 
  • Bubbles 
  • Finger Puppets 
  • Mini notepads 
  • Bookmarks 
  • Stencils 
  • Stamps 
  • Whistles/Kazoos 
  • Colouring pencils 
  • Colouring book 
  • Plastic jewellery, rings  
  • Similar prizes that are in Christmas Crackers 
 
Non-food treats to avoid: 
  • Certain mouldable clay may contain wheat 
  • Some items may be made of latex 

 

If your child has a severe food allergy, a responsible adult aware of the child’s allergy should accompany them from house to house. Agree that nothing will be eaten until all treats are checked, any that contain allergens could be swapped for something suitable. Note that the ingredients of ‘fun size’ sweets may differ from the regular size bars. Allergy information may not be displayed on sweets that come from a bigger pack, so if in doubt replace it with something suitable.  
When Trick or Treating always bring: 
  • Adrenaline autoinjectors x2 
  • Anti histamines 
  • Inhaler 
  • Hand Wipes/Sanitiser 
  • Charged Mobile Phone in case of emergencies 
 
 

HALLOWEEN PARTIES 

If its possible, have the Halloween party at your own home, so can ensure only safe food and treats are present.  
See my post on ‘Parties’  

 

 

 

PUMPKIN ALLERGY 

Although pumpkin allergies are rare, they do still exist. Individuals with a pumpkin allergy are typically allergic to the seeds but other parts of the fruit can have a negative effect on the body. While symptoms can be mild, there can always be a risk of anaphylaxis. 
Traditional ‘Pumpkin Pie Spice’doesn’t have actual pumpkin in it. It’s usually made from cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. So, it’s unlikely burning a pumpkin spice candle is going to cause a reaction. However, many modern popular pumpkin-spice themed products contain bits of actual pumpkin so this is where the problem occurs.  
The sauce used in Pumpkin Spice Latte drinks has pumpkin puree in it. While that may not be enough to cause a full reaction, it may cause symptoms. 
The key to ensuring safety in pumpkin season is to ensure to read all labels before purchasing pumpkin spice products and check ingredients with staff.  
 

 

 

ASTHMATICS 

For individuals with asthma, be aware that sudden scares on Halloween walks or running around in haunted houses could put an asthmatic individual at risk of an asthma attack. Even kicking around in dead leaves can increase an attack if they have a mould allergy. Some haunted houses may have a smoking machine or fog effects which may also trigger an attack.

 

 

 

FACE PAINTS AND COSMETICS

Some individuals may experience allergies to certain materials in costumes or in face paints. Halloween face paints are typically much heavier than everyday makeup and may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.
Adhesives used in artificial nails and false eyelashes can also lead to similar reactions.
Some ingredients are more likely to cause irritation than others, potential allergens include;
  • Latex
  • Fragrance/Smells
  • Nickel
  • Cobalt
  • Chromium

 

What to look for in Halloween Face Paint
  • Buy from brands you trust
  • Read product label’s carefully
  • Avoid cosmetics with fragrance/smells
  • It may be worth applying face paint to a small area of the skin a few days in advance, to check for irritation

 

 

 

Dress-up Costumes

For those with a Latex allergy, make sure to check costumes, masks, accessories like wands, hulk hands and Mickey Mouse ears, Halloween make-up and balloons. For those with severe allergies, avoid latex products completely and ensure to read the labels as latex-free masks are now available.
Nickel is an allergen which can be present in a zipper, button, earrings, belt or a fake sword and may cause onset of hives or dermatitis. Ensure there is a layer of clothing between your body and the nickel or substitute for a different material.
Hidden dust mites are often present on your costumes if they have been stored at the back of a closet for the year. To avoid unwanted reactions, ensure to wash the costume in hot water to kill off any mites that may have collected.
Those with eczema or atopic dermatitis may be irritated by a certain fabric which can cause a flare up of symptoms. Costumes are generally made from a lower quality fabric which causes uncomfortable itching or scratching. Costumes made from cotton instead of synthetic materials are generally more comfortable or just create your own with old clothes.
 
Allergic individuals’ adults or children do not want to be treated differently and want to enjoy Halloween as much as everybody else. This can be accomplished with a little planning and help from family and friends so theres no reason to miss out on the Halloween Fun! 
 
 

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