Asthma and allergy expert Dr. David Wilson, Medical Director, The Lung Institute at Columbus Regional Hospital in Indiana, sees a jump in asthma flare-ups among his patients as late summer moves into autumn.
“It’s common to see a spike in the fall,” he explains. “Exposure to moldy leaves on the ground and changes in the weather conditions increase inflammation of the airways and trigger symptoms in people who are susceptible to asthma or allergies.”
And Halloween traditions such as wearing costumes and trick-or-treating for candy present a set of “particularly troublesome concerns” for asthma and allergy sufferers, adds Dr. Wilson. Old costumes pulled out of storage can be laden with dust mites, new ones might have “tricky” materials, or that delicious new candy could contain an ingredient that suddenly triggers an attack.
Here’s Dr. Wilson’s bag of tricks for celebrating a safe and enjoyable Halloween with your favorite little goblins:
Wear the Right Costume
- Reuse or recyle hand-me-down costumes. But first wash in soapy, hot water to get rid of dust mites that linger in the fabric.
- Beware of the glitter. Shiny costumes and accessories (belts, crowns, swords, etc.) might contain nickel, a common allergy and asthma trigger.
- Check labels on face makeup and paint. Some preservatives in these products may cause allergic reactions. Test it out on a small area of skin before applying it more generally.
Pick the Right Candy
- Head to the hard candy. It’s generally less likely to trigger allergy symptoms than other types of candy.
- Avoid known triggers. Peanuts and tree nuts are absolutely off limits for some. Chocolate candy can also set off life-threatening flare-ups in kids with allergies to milk or eggs.
- Don’t go gooey. Gelatin is a less-common trigger, but it’s in many Halloween treats (think Gummy Bears and other chewy candies).