UT Health Austin clinics and services will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25. We will resume regular business hours on Monday, November 28. We wish you and your family a healthy and happy holiday.


Spooktacular Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Treat you and your loved ones to a sweet and safe Halloween with these tips.

Reviewed by: Alefiyah Malbari, MD
Written by: Kaylee Fang

A mother and her two children are in Halloween costumes posing on the sidewalk with their jack-o-lantern candy buckets. The girl is a red insect, and the boy is a doctor in OR scrubs. The mother is a pirate, and she is holding onto their dog.

As you and your loved ones may be returning to trick-or-treating or preparing a spooktacular celebration this season, be sure to follow health and safety guidelines. Alefiyah Malbari, MD, a board-certified general pediatrician and the Chief of Dell Children’s Medical Group Pediatrics Mueller, a clinical partnership between Dell Children’s Medical Center and UT Health Austin, shares tips on how to have a sweet and safe Halloween.

Costume Safety

Shoes

Wear comfortable shoes because trick-or-treating requires a lot of physical activity. Whether your child is walking or running to each place, make sure the shoes fit well.

“In most cases, sneakers are the best option. Closed-toed shoes are the most appropriate to prevent children from getting injured,” recommends Dr. Malbari.

It’s important to have costumes that don’t interfere with their footwear. Try on the costume with your shoes before Halloween. Adjust the length of the costume as necessary to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame.

Hats and masks

Ensure your child’s eyes are not covered with a hat or mask if you intend to wear one. Also, ensure nothing gets in the way of their peripheral vision. Check that your child can see other people and oncoming traffic, particularly in busy neighborhoods. Although a Halloween mask can have a nice effect on their costume, it tends to block most of their vision. If anything blocks their vision, consider using makeup as an alternative to creating a similar effect to a hat or mask.

Cosmetic

“As you’re choosing your makeup, try to find the ones that specifically say non-toxic,” suggests Dr. Malbari.

To avoid any skin irritation or reaction, do an allergy test on a small area of the body a few days before Halloween. Before you follow those Halloween trends, remember you may not always get the same results. Don’t get discouraged, there are different accessories you can try as an alternative.

With decorative contact lenses, the packaging label may say it’s safe for all ages. However, it’s recommended to only wear prescribed contact lenses. Decorative contact lenses can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye infections. For more information, check out A Look into Contact Lens Health.

Accessories

For costume accessories, avoid sharp or long swords, canes, and sticks. Your child can easily get hurt if they trip or fall. It also gets in the way of your child having to carry their accessories and the pile of goodies gathered throughout the night.

“The safest option is to not have them at all. If it’s a crucial part of the costume or your child wants it, choose the safest alternative. The shorter the stick or cane the better it is, and stay away from anything sharp,” advises Dr. Malbari.

Another option is to have accessories attached to the costume, so you don’t have to hold it. You can even just take pictures with their accessories and leave them at home when it’s time for trick-or-treating.

Since trick-or-treating occurs in the evening, plan costumes that are bright and reflective. It will be easier for your child to be seen. If their costume isn’t reflective, you can add reflective tape onto costumes or trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

Pedestrian Safety

Keep in mind that neighborhoods are busier on Halloween. Set these safety measures with your child before you start trick-or-treating:

  • Cross the street with an adult
  • Look both ways before crossing the street
  • Don’t run across yards, instead walk toward the driveway
  • Walk on the curb or sidewalk

Motorist Safety

“If you are the driver, you should probably cut the actual speed limit in half, if not less, going really, slowly,” advises Dr. Malbari.

Be cautious to stop at stop signs and allow pedestrians the right-of-way. A helpful way to ensure safety is to try to make eye contact with the adults that are with the child when crossing the street. Stay alert at all times and don’t take your eyes off the roads.

Teal Pumpkin Project

The Teal Pumpkin Projects promotes safety and inclusion for individuals living with food allergies. This worldwide initiative allows everyone to be part of the fun for Halloween. As you’re setting up for Halloween, consider adding a teal pumpkin to your doorstep so others know they don’t have to worry about food allergies or other conditions. Some items to include can be:

  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Coloring books
  • Glow sticks
  • Bubbles
  • Bouncy balls
  • Other small toys

Treat Safety

Before you head out on the trick-or-treat trail, discuss with your child about treat safety tips. Have your child understand to avoid eating any candy from their bag until you have the chance to check their treats.

“You never know what you could possibly find, so make it a family tradition to go through the treats your child received after you get home,” says Dr. Malbari.

At times, it can be hard for your child to resist candy cravings when it’s right in front of them. A great solution is to carry some treats from home, so you know it’s safe for them to enjoy. Dispose of candies where the package is opened or looks old. Certain types of treats can be a choking risk for younger children.

“If you have a young child less than two years old, some of those hard candies are a choking hazard. Suckers are not necessarily safe for them to have in their mouths, so be really mindful of that,” recommends Dr. Malbari.

Sugar Health

Give your child a filling meal before celebrations and trick-or-treating. This will prevent you or your child from indulging in sweets. Create a plan with your family, so everyone knows what to expect. It’s a great opportunity to teach your child about moderation, balance, and healthful indulgence. Keep candy guidelines realistic and consistent to make Halloween more enjoyable.

“You might consider having one piece of candy every few days to find the right balance,” encourages Dr. Malbari.

Another thing to consider is that you may come home to tons of candy, especially if you have more than one child. Many programs accept candy donations the very next day. Choose your favorite treats to keep and then put aside the ones you plan on giving away. Remember there is always the next spooky season to look forward to, so in the meantime, organize your stash and enjoy your treats over time.

About the Partnership Between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center

The collaboration between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center brings together medical professionals, medical school learners, and researchers who are all part of the integrated mission of transforming healthcare delivery and redesigning the academic health environment to better serve society. This collaboration allows highly specialized providers who are at the forefront of the latest research, diagnostic, and technological developments to build an integrated system of care that is a collaborative resource for clinicians and their patients.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.