Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, candles filling the air with the smell of cinnamon and beloved decorations making their yearly appearance really do help make the season bright. But for kids with allergies these holiday delights can make the atmosphere miserable and even deadly.
"During the winter months many parents think their kids get a reprieve from allergies. Unfortunately, allergens are around all year long. Dust mites, mold, food and pet allergies don't take a Christmas vacation," said Pediatric Allergist Joyce Rabbat, MD.
With all the holiday parties and family gatherings food allergies can be a real concern for parents.
"During the holidays it can be easy to be tempted by all the wonderful goodies that everyone else is eating. And so often it can be difficult to decipher what contains allergens and what does not," said Rabbat. "Food allergies are especially dangerous because even small exposure to a food allergen can be devastating."
Here are some tips if your holiday plans include a child with a food allergy.
1.If possible avoid the allergen in food preparations.
"There are lots of alternatives that can be substituted into favorite holiday recipes," said Rabbat.
2.If you just can't change the recipe make sure you prepare all foods without the allergen first. This will limit cross contamination.
3.Make sure after you've prepared a food with the allergen that you thoroughly clean all utensils used and the surface areas that were exposed to the allergen.
4.When serving the meal try to have an allergy-free area to reduce the risk of accidental exposure.
"If food with an allergen is spilled on the table and the child touches it and/or ingests it, the child could have a serious reaction. Having allergen-free serving areas helps minimize the chance that serving utensils are used in both allergen-containing dishes and allergen-free dishes," said Rabbat.
5.Make sure everyone who has come in contact with an allergen washes his or her hands and face before interacting with a child with an allergy.