Whether you’re a ghost or zombie, vampire or witch, poor costume choices—including decorative (colored) contact lenses and flammable costumes—and face paint allergies can cause injuries that haunt you long after Halloween.
Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by following these guidelines from FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Wear costumes that say “flame resistant” on the label. If you make your costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.
- Wear bright, reflective costumes or add strips of reflective tape so you’ll be more visible; make sure the costumes aren’t so long that you’re in danger of tripping.
- Wear makeup and hats rather than masks that can obscure your vision.
- Test the makeup you plan to use in advance. Put a small amount on the arm of the person who will be wearing it. If a rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation develop where the makeup was applied, that's a sign of a possible allergy.
- Vibrantly colored makeup is popular at Halloween. Check FDA’s list of color additives to see if the colors are FDA approved. If they aren’t approved for their intended use, don’t use them. This is especially important for colored makeup around the eyes.
- Don’t wear decorative (colored) contact lenses unless you have seen an eye care professional for a proper fitting and been given instructions for how to use the lenses.
- Eating sweet treats is also a big part of Halloween fun.
Before you or your children go trick-or-treating, remember these tips:
- Don’t eat candy until it has been inspected at home.
- Eat a snack before heading out to avoid the temptation of nibbling on a treat before it has been inspected.
- In case of a food allergy, check the label to ensure the allergen isn’t present. Tell children not to accept—or eat—anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
- Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys from the Halloween bags.
- Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
For partygoers and party throwers, FDA recommends the following tips for two seasonal favorites:
- Unpasteurized juices and juices that have not been further processed are at higher risk of food- borne illness. Look for the warning label to identify juice that hasn’t been pasteurized or otherwise processed, especially packaged juice products made on site. If unsure, always ask if juice has been pasteurized or not. Normally, juice in boxes, bottles or cans from your grocer’s frozen food case, refrigerated section, or shelf has been pasteurized.
- Before bobbing for apples—a favorite Halloween game—reduce the risk of bacteria by thoroughly rinsing the apples under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
FDA joins eye care professionals—including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists and the American Optometric Association—in discouraging consumers from using illegal decorative (colored) contact lenses. These are contact lenses that have not been approved by FDA for safety and effectiveness. Consumers should only use brand name contact lenses from well-known contact lens companies.
If you have never worn contact lenses before, Halloween should not be the first time you wear them. Experts warn that buying any kind of contact lenses—which are medical devices and regulated as such—without an examination and a prescription from an eye care professional can cause serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss. Despite the fact that it’s illegal to sell decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription, FDA says the lenses are sold on the Internet and in retail shops and salons—particularly around Halloween.
The decorative lenses make the wearer’s eyes appear to glow in the dark, create the illusion of vertical “cat eyes,” or change the wearer’s eye color.
Although unauthorized use of decorative contact lenses is a concern year-round, Halloween is the time when people may be inclined to use them, perhaps as costume accessories. When they are bought and used without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care, it can lead to significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness.
This article appears on the FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
Updated: October 20, 2017
Published: October 26, 2010