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Halloween Doesn't Have to Be Scary for Allergy Sufferers

A teal pumpkin halloween treat bucket filled with non-food treats for food allergy suffers

Having a child with food allergies can be difficult.  Making sure they don’t encounter something they are allergic to can seem even more difficult during a time like Halloween.  Even though you check the candy they get from trick or treating, it may leave them with little to no candy.  Your trick-or-treater doesn’t have to miss out on the fun that comes with Halloween, all while staying allergy friendly.  

Even with a growing population of children with food allergies, it can be hard to find candy that is suitable for them.  It is important to read the ingredient labels as some common candies can contain ingredients your child is allergic to.  Dark chocolate, for example, will still contain traces of milk, which can be dangerous to those with a milk allergy.  Licorice is usually made with wheat and candy corn is made with egg and sesame oil. Although a regular size candy may not contain an ingredient your child is allergic to, this does not mean the fun-size bars don’t as well.  Often, the fun-size versions can contain different ingredients making it extra important to read the labels or stay away from them all together.  Popular candies such as Snickers, Reese’s, Kit Kats and more, can contain peanuts,egg or milk.  Children with an allergy to these need to be kept away from these candies.  Even if the child doesn’t eat the candy, just handling the candy  can cause reactions. Setting rules with your child before going trick or treating is important! Remind your child not to open or eat any candy while out trick or treating.     

Be sure to watch your child for symptoms of a food-allergic reaction like coughing, wheezing, breaking out in hives, or complaining of a severe stomach ache (that is not from eating too much candy).  If your child develops any of these symptoms, be sure to administer their EpiPen, Auvi-Q or other epinephrine device and call 911.  If you do not have one of these devices, make sure to call 911 or take your child right away to the nearest Emergency Room to be treated so their symptoms do not progress further.  

One fun way to let your child still enjoy Halloween is by participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, which raises awareness of children with food allergies.  Have your child carry around a teal pumpkin while trick or treating so that other households know to not give out a food item as a treat.  Others may not know what a teal pumpkin represents, so make sure to let neighbors know your child has a food allergy.  

As a neighbor, you can also help those with food allergies by leaving out two sets of treats. One pumpkin can be filled with the traditional candies while the other pumpkin is teal and labeled “Allergy Free.”  This bowl should contain nonfood items.  

Some examples include: 

You can visit the website www.foodallergy.org to learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project as well as find additional resources that can help you understand food allergies and how to make Halloween an inclusive, fun day for your child.  On the website, you can even search your area to see who will be putting out an allergy friendly bucket.  By taking a few extra precautions, Halloween can be a little less scary this year! 

Dominique, M.S. Biomedical Sciences A valued member of the Apex Allergy and Asthma Team

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