5 Halloween Mishaps and Missteps to Avoid

Decorative lenses

3. Domestic diva Martha Stewart may be sporting gold contact lenses as part of her Spellbinding Sorceress costume for her magazine's special Halloween handbook, but decorative lenses purchased without a prescription on the Internet, in salons, video shops, record stores or flea markets, can lead to infections or leave you blind, the FDA and eye care professionals say. These non-prescription devices have been illegal since 2005, warns the American Academy of Ophthalmology. So, even if your vision is normal, either see a licensed professional for a proper fitting of cosmetic contact lenses, or skip them when putting together this year's costume.

Trick or treat

4. Trick-or-treating along public roads and thoroughfares in an all-black costume at night makes you virtually invisible and could turn you into the main character in one of Halloween's sorriest tales. Instead, the FDA's tips for a safe Halloween include the suggestion that you wear bright, reflective costumes. Or, place strips of reflective tape on your costume or trick-or-treat bag to make sure drivers and others can spot you in the darkness. Consider the terrible toll suffered each year by youngsters trick-or-treating after they've been dismissed from school for the day. Pedestrian deaths among children 5 to 14 are at least four times higher between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Halloween than on other nights of the year, according to a 1997 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the years 1975-1996.


5. Wearing makeup or other face paint without first testing it. The FDA recommends skin-testing such products by applying a small amount on your arm (inside your wrist or the crook of your elbow work well) a couple of days before you plan to don your costume. Dr. Bruce Robinson, a New York City dermatologist, recommends even stronger precautions. He suggests testing products once daily for a full week, or, ideally, for 10 days. "If you're going to use makeup without testing, be prepared for your skin to look very scary," he said.

A rash, redness, itchiness, swelling or irritation may indicate you're allergic to one or more ingredients in the product. The FDA recommends checking its online list of color additives to see if those in your Halloween makeup are FDA-approved for use on the skin. However, Halloween makeup packaging frequently doesn't include a full ingredient list; and you rarely see the words "dermatologist-tested" or "hypoallergenic," on the packages, Robinson said.

Finally, make sure you remove the makeup before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation. Robinson, who is also a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology, estimated that about 5 percent of his patients suffer skin problems at Halloween. "Notoriously, every year I have patients who get an allergic contact dermatitis, who get a breakout of acne, who get exacerbations of rosacea," Robinson said.

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