In this helpful Fox News article, Dr. Bassett breaks down the 9 Ways To Have Allergy-Free Holidays. You should be sure to read it carefully and more importantly, take action on these tips to ensure the minimization of allergy triggers for you and family and friends who come to visit! Read the article.
Everyone loves a good scare around Halloween, but for families with asthma and/or skin and food allergies, a holiday celebrated with copious amounts of candy and preservatives can be especially frightening.
This Halloween, put your family’s safety first and follow these simple tips to avoid getting spooked by allergies:
- If your child has a food allergy or eats a gluten-free diet, discard any food/candy that does not come with a label. Special Halloween candies may have different ingredients compared to regular-sized versions. Remember, “When in doubt, throw it out!”
- For those allergic to nuts, the warning “may contain nuts” must always be taken seriously. Even small amounts of peanut or nut protein may be left behind during food processing.
- Keep safe snacks on hand to avoid temptation. This is especially important during the holidays, including the night before Halloween. Additionally, pumpkin carving and other non-food based activities may be a good idea for fun-filled activities that are safe.
- If you or your child has sensitive skin, suffering from eczema or a skin allergy, have your allergist or dermatologist do a pre-exposure patch test. This will help prevent an allergic reaction if your child is using a facial cosmetic or wash-a-way face paint for his or her costume.
- Make sure Halloween masks are not too tight, particularly on those with asthma.
- Use reflective tape on Halloween clothes and bags to improve safety and increase visibility during the evening hours.
- If your child has asthma or food allergies, always keep a prescribed asthma rescue inhaler and/or epinephrine autoinjector close by.
- Utilize non-food items such as stickers and small child-safe novelties in lieu of candy for those children with strong food allergies.
- Find an allergist near your home for optimal evaluation and care before Halloween if you suspect your child has asthma, skin allergies or a food allergy.
There’s no reason why children of all ages can’t enjoy Halloween safely – but for those with allergies, these simple guidelines will help to reduce the likelihood the day doesn’t turn into a real fright-fest. Plan ahead!
1. Watch out for the stuffing. It may include nuts, chestnuts, apple, bread (wheat), egg, gluten, chicken stock, herbs, seasoning, spices, milk and soybean (essentially anything!)
2. Pumpkin pie. This is a staple holiday sweet, that may include wheat, egg, milk, nuts, nutmeg and gluten.
3. Gravies. You many encounter diary, milk, egg, gluten, corn, soybean and/or wheat.
4. Sauces. Cranberry sauce may contain all kinds of nuts, walnuts, corn, pecans, etc.
5. Cakes/cookies may contain diary, soy, wheat, egg, milk, gluten and nuts galore. In fact bakery items may contain either nuts or may be produced on equipment that is exposed to various nuts. Shiny bakery items generally contain “butter”, as a wash.
6. Turkey. Many holiday birds are injected with “butter’ and various added ingredients.
7. Potatoes. There are a variety of different kinds of potatoes that may contain butter, diary, milk, cream, marshmallows (corn syrup).
8. Margarine. Some may contain milk products.
9. Canned foods. Tuna can often contain casein, a milk protein as well as some hot dogs!
10. Bring safe food and snacks while a guest in someone’s home or restaurant, especially for kids.
11. Apples, carrots, hazelnut, stone fruits may aggravate and cause “oral allergy itchiness” if you have seasonal pollen allergies!
12. Be careful with Alcohol. Look for gluten free beverages. Do your research for beer and Sake there are gluten free versions. Always check the label!
13. Seeds. Many individuals are developing various allergic reactions to seeds, such as sesame, sunflower, etc and it is frequently used in foods, breads and bakery items.
14. See an allergist, become trained as a “label detective” for a safe, and fun holiday!!!
Rule # 2 – Avoid artificial “snow sprays” that can aggravate your sinuses, eyes and cause annoying respiratory symptom including cough.
Rule # 3 – Watch out for those lovely holiday like “poinsettias”, if you have skin allergies, especially if you have a sensitivity to rubber, it may cause a itchy rash.
Rule # 4 – Don’t bring in wood for the fireplace until needed, it may bring mildew and molds into your home, especially when not completely dry or damp.
Rule # 5 – Watch out for those pesky mold spores if you have a natural, fresh Christmas tree in your home, especially if you have indoor allergies!
Rule # 6 – If you humidify your home, measure the indoor humidity level with a low cost hygrometer, and keep the level of humidity at 50% or less.
Rule # 7 – It may be best to avoid wood burning stoves or direct exposure to poorly ventilated home fireplace, especially if you have asthma or respiratory problems.
Rule # 8 – Stay away from scented candles and potpourri, incense, room fragrance devices that can irritate your eyes and nose as well as your breathing.
Rule # 9 – Wash all non-porous holiday decorations, with warm soapy water to clean off dust and mildew, before placing on your tree and other areas of the home.
Rule # 10 – A HEPA air cleaner (both a portable room unit and/or central heating/ventilation system can help to reduce indoor allergens and pollutants.
Seems that allergies are not just a springtime problem. Turns out this is a big allergy season too. It’s about all the things that make this a special time of year, and for some people, a pretty miserable one too, Dr. Max Gomez reports.
‘Tis the season to bring out your inner Martha Stewart – wreaths, candles, that beautifully decorated tree, all part of the holiday spirit. And for some people, they’re all part of a season of “a lot of itchy eyes, swollen eyes I would say definitely the big one. Not so much breathing, sometimes sneezing and so forth but its mainly swollen eyes,” said Pauline St. Denis.
Worse yet St. Denis said she can’t just say “bah humbug.” She’s a professional photographer who shoots a lot of holiday family portraits surrounded by holiday decorations.
This is a pretty busy time for her and her doctor.
“It’s surprising that every December we see a mini allergy explosion, many patients calling, coming in for the very first time and they are indeed having allergy symptoms in the month of December,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett of Long Island College Hospital.
The biggest culprit is that icon of the season, the live Christmas tree. After a few days indoors, the mold on the tree explodes with spores, but before you think going artificial will solve your troubles, there are more bad guys in your home.
Last year’s decorations are also probably moldy and covered in dust from being stored in your attic or basement all year. And even the newly-bought holiday accessories can be troublesome.
“Potpourri, scented products, incents, candles, thats the worse thing you can do during holidays that can really be irritating for a variety for your eyes, nose and throat,” Bassett said.
So what’s a sufferer to do? Well, humidifiers can help some as long as you don’t let the air get too damp – no more than 50-percent humidity – and follow the manufacturer’s directions to keep the unit clean.
Air cleaners can also help some. The best at scrubbing tiny mold spores have what are called hepa filters.
Serious sufferers, however, may need medication. Pauline gets allergy shots and uses a variety of other medications.
“The first thing I do is when I wake up I put in eye drops and I put them in before I go to sleep and I also take anti-histamine in the morning and another one at night,” she said.
Some over-the-counter medications and saline sprays may also give some relief, but if they don’t help, see an allergist for prescriptions or shots.
Or you can always play Scrooge and avoid the holidays altogether.
Better yet, celebrate in Aruba or Barbados where the Christmas trees are all shaped like palms.
Is there something you can do with the heating or ventilation in your homes? Well, as we’ve made our homes and apartments more air tight to conserve energy, we’ve made indoor allergies worse because all the indoor pollutants accumulate.
So if it isn’t too cold, open a window and exchange some of that stale air for fresh air.
And folks with forced air heat can add hepa filters, air scrubbers and humidifiers to the system to clear the air in the entire house without being environmentally incorrect.