By Steven Julius, MD, Pediatric Pulmonologist
Wearing masks made of latex and taking hayrides are among the Halloween festivities that could be risky for children with asthma, according to the American Lung Association. And we can’t forget about the happiness and entertainment that pumpkins on display bring on the wonders of Halloween. But what happens if you leave that pumpkin sitting out for too long?
The association advises parents to be proactive about managing their child’s asthma to ensure that Halloween is the fun, safe and enjoyable event it’s meant to be.
Here is a list of things parents can consider to help kids with asthma this Halloween:
- Be prepared. Hayrides and haunted houses are exciting adventures that can lead to asthma flare-ups. Make sure your child has access to their quick-relief inhaler at all times so they can use it at the first sign of worsening symptoms. Children who are old enough, can effectively administer a dose by themselves and has been instructed how to do so, then they should carry their rescue inhaler with them. Children who have had breathing problems on Halloween in the past may benefit from medication before they go trick-or-treating. Talk to your child’s doctor about options that could help.
- Keep it clean. Any costume that has been packed away for a while should be washed before a child with asthma wears it to prevent exposure to dust, mold and dust mites that can trigger asthma symptoms.
- Rethink the mask. Before buying a mask, check its label. Latex is a known asthma trigger, but it’s used to make many costume masks. Keep in mind that masks also make it more difficult to breathe normally. Cutting a mask in half or skipping one entirely may be the best option for kids with asthma.
- Buy better quality makeup. This helps you avoid preservatives that are often used in cheaper types of makeup and can cause an allergic reaction. Test makeup on a small area of skin before Halloween and check for rashes or other skin reactions.
- Check the forecast. The air quality on Halloween night can make a difference for kids with asthma. Be mindful of pollution and cold air, which can trigger an asthma attack.
- Avoid unknown goodies. Unless there’s a way to guarantee that the ingredients are safe, tell your children to politely refuse any homemade treats people give out on Halloween or simply not consume anything until you have inspected it.
- Be cautious. Teach kids to not enter anyone’s home while they are out trick-or-treating. Aside from being a common-sense safety precaution, this can also keep them healthy. The homes of strangers could have pets or cigarette smoke, which could trigger an asthma attack. And, for kids with food allergies along with asthma, be sure to check your little ones’ candy haul for treats that could spell trouble.
- Stay out of fog. Look out for man-made fog, which can trigger asthma symptoms.
- Enjoy and also be mindful of pumpkins. Avoid dusty, moldy pumpkins that could trigger an allergic reaction. Buy pumpkins at a store and wash them before you carve and decorate them. Discard them as soon as they show signs of decay or mold growth.
Steven Julius, MD, is a pediatric pulmonologist at Mission Children’s Hospital. Meet Dr. Steven Julius.
Being little is a big deal. Learn more about services with Mission Children’s Hospital at missionchildrens.org.