Halloween can be a frightful time of year for children with asthma and allergies. Candy and other treats are among the usual suspects, but costumes and makeup can also bring on allergy and asthma symptoms.

So be smart and consider these important tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and the Food and Drug Administration about how to help your little ghost or goblin stay wheeze- and sneeze-free on Halloween.


Eggs, milk, peanuts, and tree nuts are common ingredients in chocolate and other confections. For kids with food allergies, eating those Halloween treats can bring on anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. Candies containing gelatin, such as gummy bears, are potential triggers, too. For children prone to food allergies, it's a good idea to have some noncandy treats on hand, like stickers or small toys. Also be wary of "fun sized" candy, which can contain different ingredients from regular-sized candy, and teach your child to politely say no to food that may not be safe. Verify that adults or friends accompanying your child understand his or her food allergies and know what to do in an emergency.


Halloween costumes packed away in a box for months can be laden with dust mites, which could trigger an allergic or asthmatic response. Be sure to wash any dusty or hand-me-down costumes in hot water. Also watch out for nickel in costume accessories such as cowboy belts, magic wands, pirate swords, and tiaras. Nickel can cause allergic contact dermatitis, making for an itchy, bumpy, uncomfortable kid.


Cheap Halloween makeup may include preservatives that can cause allergic reactions, such as a rash or swelling. Opt for higher-quality theater makeup, and test it on a small area of your child's skin well before Halloween.


Pumpkin allergies, while rare, can cause itching, chest tightness, and other symptoms, and can appear suddenly, even if there has never been a problem before. Also keep in mind that pumpkin patches are often moldy and dusty, and are thus an allergy and asthma trigger for some.

Decorative Contact Lenses

If your young one is asking for colorful, vampire-inspired contact lenses, consider the warning from the Food and Drug Administration before saying yes. Never buy the lenses from places that sell them without a prescription, such as street vendors, salons, novelty stores, and the internet. An eye doctor should measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how the eye responds to contact lenswear. A poor fit can cause serious eye damage, including cornea scratches and infection, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), decreased vision, and even blindness. 


If you're planning to use a fog machine at your Halloween party, keep in mind that fog can trigger asthma in some people.