What You Don't Know About Halloween Costume Choices Can Be Scary: FDA

Experts want you to be careful with any face paint or colored contacts you plan to use for Halloween

Before you dress up as a ghost or zombie, vampire or witch, experts say costume choices like colored contact lenses and face paint can cause injuries or allergic reactions haunting you well after Halloween.

The Food and Drug Administration wants to remind trick or treaters to make safe costume choices.

“I’m planning to be the Joker,” said Mirla Sales.

Sales is trying out face paint for the first time.

“I haven’t done it before. It’s very possible I could be allergic. I was definitely planning to test it out beforehand,” said Sales.

That’s advice the FDA wants you to follow. The agency says if you’re using face paint, be careful because you could have an allergic reaction.

“As a parent, yeah, I don’t want my daughter’s face breaking out from some allergic reaction,” said Robert Santos.

“Common ingredients include dyes and sometimes preservatives,” said Dr. Hao Feng, assistant professor of dermatology at UConn Health.

Feng said in some cases, patients will notice some redness after using the face paint and once they stop, it goes away.

“However, some people can get extremely allergic to it. So, they have a full-blown rash and sometimes that rash can spread to other places,” Feng explained.

Feng suggested if you do decide to use face paint, give it a test run.

“Get it, rub it on your arm in a small area for multiple days before Halloween. So, that you can see if you develop an allergic or irritant reaction. If you do, certainly, don’t use it on your face,” Feng said.

And if you haven’t worn contact lenses before, Halloween should not be the first time you try them out.

“Contact lenses are not one size fits all,” said Dr. Neil Kemp.

Kemp, of Kemp Eyecare in West Hartford, says Halloween is busy time for them. That’s when they receive complaints about costume or colored contact. He says even though they may be advertised like toys, it is illegal to sell them without a prescription.

“They’re not over the counter merchandise. They are actually medical devices that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and they require a prescription,” Kemp said.

Experts recommend getting an eye examination and prescription before buying colored contact lenses. You could risk getting an eye injury to blindness.

“Unfortunately, what can happen with consumers who do obtain these contact lenses, they don’t often get any kind of training on how to care use them,” Kemp told NBC Connecticut.

Parents like Robert Santos says it’s a scary thought to know that may the case.

“If there’s a warning like that and they’re not getting prescriptions…that’s a great idea to have that type of warning out there,” said Santos.

The FDA says consumers should only use brand name contact lenses from well-known contact lens companies, not ones that are sold without a prescription on the internet or in retail shops and salons – especially around Halloween.

As for that vibrant colored makeup at Halloween, if the products aren’t approved by the FDA, don’t use them.

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