Dr. John Good

Fall is here and with the festivities there are many temptations and goodies offered by the approaching holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Following a few do’s and don’ts can make the celebrations a little safer and more healthful for both children and parents.

Treats for special diets

Food allergies can put a damper on any child’s fun, especially during Halloween. Parents are reminded to examine the label of all candies to ensure your child’s allergen isn’t present and are cautioned to not allow any home-baked goods to be eaten. Don’t take ingredients for granted. Favorites that checked out last Halloween may have different ingredients this year. Also, mini versions of candy might have different ingredients than their full-size versions. To be sure last year’s treats aren’t this year’s trick, impose a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule.

Handing out candy to little ghosts and goblins on Halloween is part of the holiday experience and there’s a fun and easy way to make it even more inclusive for the one in 13 kids who have food allergies or intolerances. The “Teal Pumpkin Project” created by the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization suggests placing a teal-colored pumpkin out front, signaling it contains allergy-friendly candy or foods as well as non-edible treats like small toys, glow sticks, or stickers.

Keeping a watchful eye on your young ones while they enjoy their loot is important, as food allergies can develop at any stage of life. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S., and no parents need that type of scare on Halloween.

 A child having an allergic reaction may manifest symptoms of putting their hands in their mouth, pulling or scratching at their tongues, slurring their words, or their voice may become hoarse or squeaky.  Other symptoms you may see are skin changes such as a rash and swelling with possible itching, runny nose, congestion, abnormal breathing sounds (such as wheezing, stridor or cough), labored breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dizziness or passing out.

Tricks on keeping them healthy

The spookiest holiday of the year is a good marker for the start of flu season as well. Getting a flu shot two weeks before mischief night can help keep your child stay happy and healthy past Halloween and into the family holiday season.

It is also a great time to remind your child of proper hygiene as they travel door-to-door speaking to neighbors to get treats and possibly petting friendly dogs being escorted by adults on the street. Remind them that washing their hands frequently will help keep them healthy. With the increase in sugar intake in your child’s diet, it is also important to remind them to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste regularly and to floss daily as well.

For parents with children who wear face paint or makeup, it’s important to check out those ingredients as well. Harmful ingredients in face makeup can trigger allergies or cause problems like skin irritation. Some tips to prevent a bad reaction: Avoid makeup with heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, lead and even arsenic. To avoid infection, wash hands before applying makeup, and never share makeup with others. A good practice is to test a small amount of makeup a few days before to see if your child will have a reaction, and when in doubt, talk to your child’s pediatrician.

Stay safe, healthy, and happy this Halloween and be sure to remain healthy throughout the rest of the holiday season by visiting your family provider to get your family’s flu shots.