shutterstock_1101711878_tTl5TZx.jpeg (shutterstock_1101711878.webp)No child wants to have an allergic reaction during Halloween festivities, and no parent wants to deliver an emergency treatment for an allergic reaction. Helping your child avoid food allergens throughout the rest of the year is difficult enough, but it can be even harder to control what candies end up in your child’s plastic pumpkin or empty pillowcase during the fun and commotion of trick-or-treating.
At Prima CARE, our dedicated team of allergy specialists led by Dr. Joseph Zhou is here to support you and provide expert advice on managing allergies. Don't let food allergens dampen the Halloween spirit - follow our tips for a safe and enjoyable trick-or-treating experience.

1. Seek Out Teal Pumpkins

When you’re out on your trick-or-treat route, make sure to look for houses with teal pumpkins. The Teal Pumpkin Project, created by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), is a movement to make this spooky holiday safer for kids with food allergies.

If a house has a teal pumpkin on their doorstep or near their trick-or-treating setup, they’re signalling that they have allergy friendly treats, and non-food treats available as an option. FARE even has a Teal Pumpkin Project Map on its website that allows families to locate participating houses in their area.

2. Hand Out Trinkets, Not Treats

To participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can easily hand out toys instead of candy. Simply get a fake teal pumpkin or paint a real pumpkin during your carving session. This way, you can avoid food allergens altogether. However, if you can't imagine Halloween without candy, you can keep candy and toys in separate buckets. This allows costumed kids to choose from their preferred bucket, regardless of food allergies.

If you’re worried buying toys for the whole neighborhood might get too expensive, try searching online for terms like “toys in bulk” or “wholesale toys.” Several different online retailers sell fun trinkets like plastic vampire teeth, spider rings, and glow stick bracelets in large quantities at low prices, letting you join in on the Teal Pumpkin fun! Depending on what you choose, you might even end up spending less on trinkets than you would have on traditional candy.

3. Read Every Label

It’s unlikely that every house you and your child visit will be participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. With this in mind, make sure to have a conversation with your child beforehand to establish a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule. If needed, you can even try to employ this rule with children in other families you might be roaming the neighborhood with.

This rule is important because it will allow you to read the labels on candies at home before your child can eat them and start showing symptoms of an allergic reaction. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you sort:

No matter what, read every label.

  • Avoid any candies or foods that don’t have a label.
  • Some candies might contain different ingredients based on their size. For instance, a “king-sized” version of a candy might contain a food allergen, while a “fun-sized” version may not, or vice versa.
  • Candy that has been safe for your child in the past may have had its recipe changed.
  • Depending on your child’s age, this might also be a good time to teach them how to read ingredient labels.

4. Focus on the Fun!

Trick-or-treating should be fun for both you and your kiddo. The “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule makes it so that you’ll have time to review labels later, so make sure you do just that—review them later! Be as watchful as you normally would be, but allow yourself to be in the moment and enjoy your night with your cutely costumed kid.

Make Halloween Allergy-Safe with Prima CARE

The fun doesn’t have to stop after trick-or-treating, either. Once you’ve finished sorting through all of the collected candy, there are fun ways to get rid of the leftovers. If your child is younger, FARE suggests having them leave out their candy for the “Good Witch,” who will trade it for toys or safer candy, just like the Tooth Fairy trades teeth for money. When the Good Witch’s trade is complete, you can donate the leftover candy. If your child is older, it can also be fun to let them help with the donation process.

However you celebrate this spooky season, make sure to keep those with food allergies in mind. Whether your own child has allergies or you just want to be mindful of the kids in the neighborhood who might, you can help make Halloween a safe and fun event for the children around you. Set out a teal pumpkin and enjoy trick-or-treating!

If your child has food allergies, or if you’re searching for allergy testing near you, don’t wait; Prima CARE has the resources you need. Our board-certified allergy specialist, Dr. Joseph Zhou, can help you and your family with allergy treatments, if previously diagnosed, or with allergy tests, if you’re unsure what’s causing an allergic reaction in your child. Before trick-or-treating this year, schedule an appointment online or call (744)-375-0504 for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some non-food treats that can be handed out to trick or treaters?

Non-food treats such as stickers, temporary tattoos, bouncy balls, glow sticks, and small toys make great alternatives to candy for trick-or-treaters with food allergies.

What should I do if my child has a severe allergy while trick-or-treating?

If your child has severe allergies, administer their emergency medication (e.g., epinephrine auto-injector) as prescribed and seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 for emergency assistance.

Can seasonal allergies affect children during Halloween?

Yes, children with seasonal allergies may still experience symptoms during Halloween due to outdoor allergens like pollen and mold. It's important to manage their allergies with appropriate medications and precautions.

How can I promote allergy awareness during Halloween?

Consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project by placing a teal pumpkin outside your home to indicate that you have non food treats available for trick-or-treaters with allergies. Raise food allergy awareness by sharing information with your community and encouraging others to join the initiative.

What are some common food allergy symptoms?

Symptoms of the most common food allergies can vary but may include hives, itching, swelling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis. It's crucial to seek medical attention if you suspect a food allergy.

What is the difference between an allergic reaction and a severe allergic reaction?

An allergic reaction refers to the body's immune response to an allergen, resulting in symptoms such as itching, hives, or runny nose. A severe allergic reaction, also known as anaphylaxis, is a life-threatening response that can cause difficulty breathing, swelling, and a drop in blood pressure.

Can insect stings cause severe allergic reactions in some people?

Yes, insect stings, such as those from bees, wasps, or hornets, can trigger severe allergic reactions in certain individuals. These reactions may include symptoms like swelling, difficulty breathing, or a rapid drop in blood pressure.

What can I do to support my child's immune system during trick-or-treating and reduce the risk of allergies?

While your child's immune system makes antibodies to protect against allergens, there are steps you can take to support their immune system during Halloween. Make sure they eat a healthy diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and immune-boosting foods. Adequate rest and regular exercise also help. You can also consider adding immune-supporting vitamins and minerals to their diet, with guidance from a healthcare professional. A strong immune system can reduce the chances of allergic reactions during trick-or-treating, making it a safer experience for your child.