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Separating "Tricks" from "Treats" at Halloween

On Halloween, separating the "tricks" from the "treats" can sometimes be difficult for parents of children with asthma and allergies, and even for parents of kids who don't have either disease. Face paints, candy and other foods all may pose potential health hazards for kids with allergies and asthma.

Avoid the unknown and have a safe alternative

"Kids will want to eat the candy immediately," says Dr. Ronald Strauss at Cleveland Asthma and Allergy Center, �Tell your child to come home first so that you can check the ingredients." He recommends slipping a few safe snacks into children's trick-or-treat bags to help them avoid eating food that hasn't been checked by parents.

No label, no eat

Once a child has brought the candy home, closely examine the food for any signs of tampering and the labels for any ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction. Allergies to peanut and/or tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds and cashews, affect about 3 million Americans, according to American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Physically smaller candy labels often don't have room for an ingredients list. Let children with food allergies eat only candy that has a clearly marked ingredients list.

Hypoallergenic makeup

Grease or face paints can be problematic for kids whose skin is easily irritated. Hypoallergenic face paints are the best. If the child has eczema, chronic red and itchy skin, avoid face and grease paint altogether. An itchy rash is the most common skin condition in children younger than 11 years of age.

Make sure that the paints wash off easily. Make sure sure you don't spray colored hair spray towards the face and use it in a well-ventilated area because it can be very irritating for the eyes and respiratory tract.

Consider pretreatment for asthma

As the night of Halloween approaches and children become excited, those with asthma may begin to show symptoms. Emotions, such as excitement, can actually trigger an asthma attack in some children. Other triggers are cool air and dust that could be kicked up if it's a windy night. Dr. Ronald Strauss suggests checking with a child's doctor about pretreating with asthma medication before trick-or-treating if these weather and emotional conditions arise. About 5 million children in the United States have asthma.