6 Ways to Keep Kids with Asthma Safe on Halloween
Don't let an asthma flare turn a fun night into a real fright
For a kid who has asthma, Halloween can be tricky. Many of the items and activities that are part of the festivities are potential asthma triggers, says Albert Rizzo, MD, senior medical advisor for the American Lung Association.
It's important for parents and kids to stay attuned to anything that might provoke an asthma attack, advises Rizzo. The better a child understands what her particular triggers are, the better able she’ll be to avoid an asthma attack on Halloween, he adds.
Let the ghouls and goblins provide the only scares this holiday. To ward off an asthma flare, follow these expert tips.
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Clean hand-me-down costumes. After being in storage, a get-up from a previous year can harbor dust, mold and mites — common asthma triggers. Even before a child with asthma tries on an already-worn costume, wash it thoroughly. Once Halloween is over, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends packing away costumes you want to keep in a sealed plastic container.
Avoid latex masks and costumes. Latex can bring on asthma attacks as well as allergy symptoms in some people, so a child with asthma should steer clear of costumes and masks made of latex. Anything that feels rubbery may be made of latex, so check the label. If your child goes to a party, watch for incidental contact with latex, including from balloons. Just breathing air that’s been exposed to latex balloons can be dangerous, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Ditch the mask, or go half-mask. Even a mask that’s not made of latex can be problematic for a kid who suffers from asthma because covering the face can interfere with breathing. Put together a costume that doesn't require one, or have your child choose a half-mask that allows her to inhale and exhale freely, suggests the American Lung Association.
Mind the makeup. Some types contain preservatives that can cause allergic reactions. Rizzo recommends applying makeup to a small patch of skin a few days before Halloween to make sure there’s no reaction. He also recommends opting for high quality theater makeup. Does the makeup have a strong smell? Avoid it, says Rizzo, who cautions that strongly scented makeup, as well as hair dyes and hair and body sprays, are potential asthma triggers.
Know your child’s fright tolerance. Visiting haunted houses or hearing blood-curdling screams can scare an easily frightened kid enough to bring wheezing or other asthma symptoms. “The fog machines often used to create an eerie effect on Halloween also can precipitate an asthma attack,” says Rizzo. Stay away from truly alarming experiences and make sure your child has an inhaler handy wherever you take her.
Skip the hayrides. Hay often harbors fungus, according to the Washington University School of Medicine, and that can be a major asthma trigger.
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