Macabre Medical Halloween Ideas

A collection of artificial eyeballs..

If you are looking for a good Halloween costume, there is plenty of spooky material in medicine -- both past and present -- so read down for more on this.

For young children, while the blood and gore is certainly not in play, medicine may still be relevant since some knowledge of normal childhood development can be quite helpful when trying to settle on a Halloween costume.

Costumes for Young Children

Obviously, it's not time for medical macabre yet with these little ones, but children of a certain age may still give you a scare when it comes to settling on the right costume.

Children in a particular age group -- somewhere around two to four years old -- are highly susceptible to the "I want it all" syndrome. Homemade combination costumes may be in order, such as princess-butterflies or astronaut-ninjas. Your neighbors will wonder about you, but your child will be happy.

If your child is a bit older and has developed sensibilities about Halloween appropriateness already, here are some of the classics to consider: pumpkin, ghost, witch, princess, clown scarecrow, pirate, ballerina, and vampire. 

Ghoulish Inspiration from Medicine -- for Adults

In this genre, sometimes conveying that you are a doctor is the easiest part of the costume. Today, people are often looking for the additional context or clues as to which famous doctor you might be, or what types of grotesque procedures you do.

Have a look at vintage medical instruments for ideas on finding the right accessories, and don't neglect the more recent inventions -- a neck brace with loads of metal for external fixation of broken bones, along with a scar across the forehead might do the trick.

Even the simplest surgical tray with just a few items splattered with fake blood often does the trick. Or perhaps a 1960s-era straightjacket for the "criminally insane" is what you need.

Here is one that not everybody will "get," but it's kind of neat in that nerdy sort of way: the bubonic plague doctor. The German Museum of Medical History has various masks used by doctors who treated the bubonic plague, and some of them have eye patches and snouts that make the person appear like a giant mosquito -- the long snout or beak was likely stuffed with aromatic items to mitigate the stench of decay and protect the doctor from inhaling any vapors that would make him sick.

Halloween Ideas from the O.R.

If you are considering a surgical theme, you can get plenty of ideas from modern surgical instruments, but the history of surgery is also rich with possibilities. If you need props, for instance, you can make a two-liter bottle look sinister by applying a paper label, stained with teabags to look old, and writing the inscription "Chloroform - Pure," then beneath it put "Duncan Flockhart & Co., 1847." This was the actual manufacturer in Great Britain back in the day.

Likewise, amputation instruments from the past occasionally had an uncanny knack for looking like whatever they were intended to remove. Simple saws and forceps can be made with cardboard cutouts and silver metallic spray paint. And the amputated limbs? These are now common stock at any reputable Halloween superstore.

Bottled appendages make great decorations in entryways of houses, where children come for the candy. Such props can be made easily using tall rectangular or cylindrical food storage containers filled with water and a tinge of food coloring -- as well as the appendage or organ of your choice from the superstore.

If you have a gourmet foodie in your life, some of the lesser-known kitchen instruments can double as arcane medical devices or surgical instruments. If the kitchen tool is rusty, all the better.

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