Scare Tactics—Keeping Eyes Safe on Halloween
Halloween is almost here. That means cosmetic contacts, skin rashes, and eye infections from crazy makeup and silly stunts that can injure vision. Adults are just as prone to these problems as kids. Here are seven things you need to share with patients so that they and their kids will say boo, not boohoo, on Halloween night.
Tip: “Tell your patients to send kids out with a flashlight, not a glow stick that may contain toxins that can damage the eyes.”
- HAND WASHING. Especially this time of year, stress the importance to patients of washing their hands before putting on makeup near the eyes.
- REPLACE, NOT RE-APPLY. Halloween makeup is often kept year after year. Tell patients not to use that tube of black goop or glob of glittery mascara from last year. Talk about inviting infection. According to the Food and Drug Administration, “In rare cases, women have been temporarily or permanently blinded by an infection from an eye cosmetic.”
- IMPORT ALERT. On Sept. 28, the FDA released an “Import Alert in effect for cosmetics [specifically eye shadow] contaminated with harmful microorganisms.” The FDA also warns against use of illegal colors and color additives in imported cosmetics as well as the use of kohl, also known as al-kahl or surma. For info, go to: http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Products/ucm137241.htm
- CRAZY CONTACTS. Talk about buyer beware. Explain to patients—adults and kids—that decorative contact lenses are not cosmetics at all, but regulated medical devices that require a prescription. Results of ignoring such advice range from corneal scratches and infection to decreased vision, pink eye, and even blindness. That is one of many reasons retailers can be fined $11,000 per violation if caught selling contacts without a prescription.
- HEAVY METAL. We’re not talking music here. It’s about makeup, says Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. In his letter to the FDA sent just before Halloween 2015, he urged its commissioner to establish guidelines for limiting heavy metals in face paints commonly used on Halloween. He also warned parents to look at the labels and not purchase improperly labeled products from overseas, particularly China, that don’t list toxins contained in the makeup. Schumer pointed to lead, chromium, and cobalt as the biggest culprits.
- DANGEROUS COSTUMES. Last year’s most dangerous costume was what was called the “invisible bodysuit.” But any costume with a mask, pointed hat, or wannabe weapon can pose serious dangers.
- STAYING SAFE. Tell your patients to send kids out with a flashlight, NOT a glow stick, as the latter may contain toxins that can damage the eyes. Also, recommend they affix reflective tape to parts of all costumes.
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