SUNDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For most kids, Halloween parties and trick-or-treating can be a mixture of fun and frightening, but for children with a nut allergy, the day can actually be dangerous, warns a doctor.

This type of allergy "can be a life-or-death situation. Just because a child only had a rash the first time exposed doesn't mean it won't be more serious the next time," Dr. Sean Cahill, an associate professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in a Loyola news release.

"Though having a nut allergy is serious, kids should still be able to have fun. The key is education. Make sure your child knows what he or she can eat," Cahill added.

He offered the following suggestions for keeping children safe at Halloween parties:

  • Tell the party host about your child's allergy and provide a list of specific foods that they must avoid.
  • Offer to help the hostess by wiping down all surfaces. It's surfaces exposed to nuts, not inhaling nut particles, that cause an allergic reaction. In addition, all pans, dishes and serving utensils must be thoroughly cleaned if previously used on dishes prepared with nuts.
  • Bring something to the party that you know your child will enjoy that is safe for them to eat. Check product labels when shopping. If a label says a food has been made on the same machine as products with nuts, don't buy it. If a label says a food has been made in the same plant as products with nuts, it's likely safe.

Cahill also offered trick-or-treat safety tips:

  • If you have a younger child, take nut-free candy to neighbors before Halloween and then take your child to those houses on the big night.
  • When your child returns home from trick-or-treating, immediately remove all treats with nuts or those that could cause a reaction. If in doubt, get rid of the candy.
  • If you or anyone else eats a product with nuts, brush your teeth and wash your hands before hugging or kissing a child with a nut allergy.

"A peanut allergy is not limited to peanuts. Some people with a peanut allergy are allergic to numerous types of nuts and seeds, and nut allergies are often seen in kids with other food allergies, like eggs, or in kids with asthma and eczema," Cahill added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about food allergies.