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Halloween: Tricks, Treats, and Glow Sticks Poison Safety This Season

The Bottom Line

Halloween treats are great. Tricks are not! Go with your children when they trick-or-treat. Look at the goodies before they're eaten. Rinse liquid from glow sticks out of eyes if it's splashed. Drink some water if it's swallowed. And, stick to actual cosmetics meant for the skin when making up.

The Full Story

Many families celebrate Halloween by walking their neighborhood in costume, ringing the doorbell with the familiar cry - “Trick or Treat!” Some neighborhoods instead host group celebrations out of concern for the safety of their young residents.

Glow sticks top the list of Halloween-related calls to Poison Control. Other common calls are about Halloween treats and makeup for costumes.

Glow sticks: Whether you are walking with friends to homes in your neighborhood, or heading to the community party with family, many children will be carrying those fluorescent green items that give off light. Although glow sticks and glow jewelry are now available all year round, lots of young ones are exposed to the liquid inside them around Halloween.

Children sometimes bite a glow stick or glow jewelry. The liquid squirts into the child’s mouth – and it tastes awful. Even so, it will not poison a child. Rinse the bitter taste away by having your child rinse her mouth with water.

Glow liquid in the eyes can burn but usually doesn't cause injury. If glow liquid gets into the eyes, rinse the eyes with running water for fifteen minutes. Then call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 for more instructions.

Candy and treats: Parents worry about treats that were tampered with, but this is a very rare event. There are steps to ease the concern:

  • Before your Halloween celebration, give your children a good meal. They will be less likely to gobble the candy before you have a chance to check it.
  • Go with your children when they collect their treats.
  • Accept home baked goods only from people you know and trust. 
  • Inspect the treats yourself before letting children help themselves. Look for wrappers that are torn, punctured or discolored. Inspect the candy inside to be sure that it is intact.
  • There is no need to have candy x-rayed. X-rays won’t show you anything different from what you can see on your own. (Also, it's not a good idea to put more cars on the same dark streets as trick-or-treaters!)

Remember that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Keep the treats well out of your pet's reach!!

Sometimes chocolate will have a grayish color, called "bloom".  Chocolate and other candies may have hard white sugar crystals on the outside. This happens because of temperature changes while the candy is being stored. It does not mean the candy has been tampered with.

Contact law enforcement officials if you think that someone has tampered with candy or other goodies.

Use the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool for guidance or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 in case of possible poisoning. Both are available 24 hours a day and both offer expert guidance. 

Halloween makeup: Stay with the tried-and-true when it comes to makeup for costumes. Anything else can cause skin rashes or irritation. Decorative contact lenses may not meet professional standards and could injure the eye.

  • Use cosmetics that are intended for the face. Don’t try home-made concoctions.
  • Definitely don’t use decorative contact lenses, unless they are prescribed by a physician.

Barbara Schmitz, RN
Certified Specialist in Poison Information

For More Information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a comprehensive list of Halloween safety tips

Read more about decorative contact lenses from the Food and Drug Administration


Hoffman RJ, Nelson LS, Hoffman RS. Pediatric and young adult exposure to chemiluminescent glow sticks. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156:901-904.


Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • Always accompany your children while they trick-or-treat. 
  • Accept home baked goods only from people you know and trust. 
  • Inspect the treats yourself before letting children help themselves. 
  • Look for wrappers that are torn, punctured or discolored. Inspect the candy inside to be sure that it is intact.
  • Use cosmetics intended for skin for costume make-up.

This Really Happened

A 6-year-old girl was playing with a glow stick. It broke and some of the fluid splashed into her eye. She complained that her eyes burned. Her father called Poison Control. The poison specialist told the father how to flush his daughter’s eyes with running water. When the poison specialist called back later, the child's eyes were no longer bothering her.