Who Can Develop Latex Allergy
Anyone can develop an allergy to latex, but it is more common in people who are exposed to latex regularly.
It would seem that people with hay fever who are also in contact with latex regularly have an even higher risk of developing an allergy to latex.
People who are in contact with latex products on a regular basis include health care workers, people who work in the rubber industry and people who have had a lot of operations, especially during childhood.
People with spina bifida and problems with their urinary system are also at a higher risk of developing latex allergy due to the number of medical products containing latex they use to manage their condition.
People who are allergic to certain foods may also be at risk of developing latex allergy. These foods include: bananas, avocados, kiwi fruit, mangoes, chestnuts, potatoes and tomatoes. These particular foods contain similar proteins to those found in latex.
How Common Are Latex Allergies
Latex allergies are rare. Less than 1% of people in the United States are allergic to latex. Latex allergies have decreased in recent years because more hospitals now use latex-free and powder-free gloves.
Anyone can develop a latex allergy, but some people have a higher risk of developing the condition. Risk factors for latex allergy include:
- Repeated exposure to latex: Frequent contact with latex can cause your body to overreact and develop an allergic reaction. People who regularly wear latex gloves are more likely to develop an allergy to latex. Healthcare providers, dentists and people who work in the beauty industry have a higher risk.
- Frequent surgical procedures: Children and adults who have had several surgeries have an increased risk of developing a latex allergy. Children with spina bifida are especially likely to have a latex allergy because treatment for the condition includes multiple medical procedures and surgeries at a young age. Medical supplies for these procedures often contain latex.
- History of allergies: Other allergies, including allergic rhinitis , often occur along with a latex allergy. People who are allergic to latex may be allergic to certain foods, including bananas, kiwis, avocados and chestnuts. The connection between latex allergies and food allergies is called latex-food syndrome.
Alternatives To Latex Condoms
If you have a latex allergy, you and your partner might consider using non-condom contraceptives. For example, there’s the Pill, an intrauterine device , the patch, and so on. Luckily, these methods help prevent pregnancy very effectively.
However, condoms provide the best protection against STIs . For this reason, experts still recommend using a condom when youre not in a long-term relationship with a single partner. In fact, you should use a condom even if one of you is on another form of contraceptive.
Thankfully, there are other options to latex condoms for people who have allergies. For example, you could try:
- Polyurethane condoms: These are made out of thin plastic.
- Polyisoprene condoms: Theyre made out of synthetic rubber.
- Lambskin condom: Theyre made out of lamb intestine . Sure, these sound a little exotic. However, theyre a natural type of condom that humans have used for centuries.
Dont let a latex allergy stop you from having a healthy sex life. Talk to your doctor about other methods of contraception that are available to you. After all, you deserve to have fun just as much as everyone else.
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Treating A Latex Allergy
There is no cure for a latex allergy, so the best treatment is avoidance. For mild reactions, your doctor may prescribe antihistamines to treat your symptoms. If you have a severe allergy to latex, injectable epinephrine can be used to prevent anaphylaxis.
Latex is so common in the modern world, it may be difficult to completely avoid exposure. Still, there are some things you can do to reduce contact. These include:
- using non-latex gloves
- telling daycare and healthcare providers about any latex allergies
- wearing a medical ID bracelet detailing any allergies
What Are The Types Of Latex Allergy
There are two types of allergic reactions to natural rubber latex. The types of latex reactions are:
- IgE-mediated latex allergy : A person with type I latex allergy is allergic to a protein from the natural rubber tree. Exposure to latex causes the immune system to make IgE antibodies. These antibodies cause symptoms of an allergic reaction. IgE-mediated latex allergies can be life-threatening.
- Cell-mediated contact dermatitis : This allergy causes skin irritation and inflammation . Blisters may form on the skin, and they may ooze liquid. Cell-mediated contact dermatitis is not life-threatening, but may be very bothersome and in some cases progress to also involve IgE-mediated latex allergy.
Drink Lots Of Water To Flush Out The Allergen
If youve consumed it by mistake and undergoing an attack, drink lots of water to wash the allergen out of your body. Have fresh pomegranate or sugarcane to treat vomiting and nausea.7 If you have trouble breathing, or have other respiratory symptoms, drink tomato soup with freshly chopped ginger and lemon juice.
If its severe, please consult a doctor and see if you should take anti-histamine tablets or an epinephrine injection.
How Can I Protect Myself From Latex Allergy
Take the following steps to protect yourself from latex exposure and allergy in the workplace:
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The Elimination Diet For Food Intolerance
One tried-and-truethough decidedly less convenientway to figure out what foods are triggering you is the elimination diet.
With the elimination diet, as the name suggests, youll eliminate all potentially problematic foods from your diet. Then very slowly, over the course of weeks or months, youll add each food back one at a time and watch for a reaction.
To benefit from the elimination diet, youll want to write down every single food you eat while also monitoring symptoms that trigger you.
An essential component of the elimination diet is a detailed food diary. Youll want to write down every single food you eat while also monitoring your symptoms. The key is to be hyper-specific so you can figure out whether its a specific ingredient, rather than a complete food group, thats causing your troubles.
An elimination diet can be very challenging to adhere to, and it can also be confusing to interpret results. So make sure you do it with the help of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
What About Other Warning Signs
What precautions should latex-allergic people take?
- Avoid all contact with natural latex products
- Warn doctors and dentists of your allergy to latex before any examinations or procedures.
- Discuss your allergy with your employer if you work in a high latex exposure area and suffer from skin, hayfever or asthma symptoms.
- If you can’t avoid latex exposure, make sure you carry medicine you can take to reduce allergy symptoms.
- Don’t be shy – make your allergy known to family, friends, employers and co-workers.
- In addition, if your allergy is severe:
- Carry an adrenaline kit with you at all times, making sure the needle protector and syringe stopper are not made of latex.
- Obtain and wear a MedicAlert bracelet.
- When travelling, carry a variety of non-latex sterile gloves in case of emergency medical or dental work.
- Avoid eating bananas, avocados and any other fruit if these cause allergic symptoms, such as oral itching, swelling, hives or shortness of breath.
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How Common Is It To Have A Latex Allergy
Natural rubber comes from latex of rubber trees. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 1 percent of the countrys population is allergic to latex. While most individuals do not experience a latex allergy when using condoms, certain high-risk groups tend to develop latex allergic reactions more easily.
As a result of repeated exposure, a latex allergy or sensitivity can gradually develop over time. Health care workers and others who regularly use latex gloves have an increased likelihood of being allergic to latex. Before non-latex gloves were widely available, latex sensitivity was becoming increasingly prevalent in the health care industry. Children with spina bifida, as well as those undergoing frequent medical treatment or surgery, also exhibit a higher incidence of allergies to latex.
Lastly, if youve been diagnosed with any other types of allergies, theres a good chance that a latex allergy could eventually crop up. This includes asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food sensitivities to potatoes, apples, avocados, carrots, celery, chestnuts, kiwis, bananas, melons, papayas, or tomatoes.
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How To Deal With A Latex Condom Allergy
An antihistamine and/or hydrocortisone cream should relieve an itchy rash. If your latex allergy is severe, consider asking your doctor about carrying an injectable epinephrine pen to treat anaphylaxis.
A non-latex condom for sensitive skin is a comfortable, effective birth control option for those allergic to latex. Try any of the following:
- Polyisoprene condoms: Made from synthetic rubber, they dont contain the specific proteins which cause allergic reactions to condoms. Polyisoprene condoms offer comparable levels of pregnancy prevention and protection from STIs.
- Polyurethane condoms: Composed of very thin plastic, as opposed to natural rubber, they demonstrate similar levels of effectiveness when it comes to birth control and fighting STIs. However, they dont fit as tightly as latex condoms and can easily slip off.
- Lambskin condoms: They help prevent pregnancy and are manufactured from natural animal products, such as sheep intestines. Unfortunately, they fail to provide the same degree of protection from STIs due to microscopic holes which may allow viruses to pass through. Only use lambskin condoms if contracting an STI isnt a concern.
- Internal condoms: Theyre comprised of synthetic latex coated with silicone lubricant. This particular type of non-latex condom is inserted into your vagina to create a barrier. Levels of effectiveness at pregnancy prevention and STI protection prove comparable to other condoms.
Latex Allergy Home Triggers
An allergy to latex can become worse the more you come in contact with it. If you know you have this condition, be aware of products that may have the potential to cause a reaction. Ask your doctor if you need to avoid them.
Many items have latex in them. Read product labels carefully. You may need to ask product makers to be sure.
Home goods that are made with latex include:
- Rubber sink stoppers and sink mats
- Gloves for dishwashing and household cleaning
- Rubber or rubber-grip utensils
- Adult undergarments that contain rubber
- Waterproof bed pads containing rubber
- Undergarments, socks, and other clothing with elastic bands that contain rubber
- Adhesives such as glue, paste, art supplies, glue pens
- Older Barbie dolls and other dolls that are made of rubber
- Rubber bands, mouse and keyboard cords, desktop and chair pads, rubber stamps
- Mouse and wrist pads containing rubber
- Keyboards and calculators with rubber keys or switches
- Pens with comfort grip or any rubber coating
- Remote controllers for TVs or recording devices with rubber grips or keys
- Camera, telescope, or binocular eyepieces
- Bathing caps and elastic in bathing suits
- Some rain boots and raincoats
Outside the home, latex is also in many items, such as:
- Grocery store checkout belts
- Dental devices
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How Is A Latex Allergy Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms and exposure to latex. You should share information about other allergies you have, including reactions to foods. If you have a family history of allergies, tell your provider.
Your provider may order a blood test to check if youâre allergic to latex. Providers also use a skin prick test to diagnose a latex allergy.
Risk Factors Of Latex Allergy
Particular individuals are at higher risk of developing a latex allergic reaction:
- People with spina bifida. The risk of latex allergy is highest in people with spina bifida a birth defect that impacts the development of the spinal column. Individuals with this condition often are exposed to latex products through early and frequent health care.
- Individuals who undergo multiple surgical treatments or medical procedures. Repeated direct exposure to latex gloves increases your risk of establishing latex allergy.
- Health care employees. If you operate in healthcare, youre at increased risk of developing an allergic reaction.
- Rubber industry workers. Repeated direct exposure to latex may increase sensitivity.
- People with a personal or family history of allergies. Youre at increased risk of latex allergic reaction if you have other allergies such as hay fever or a food allergic reaction or theyre common in your family.
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The Living Hell Of A Latex Allergy
Marshall, who is in her 30s and lives in Pennsylvania, is severely allergic to natural rubber latex, or rather, the proteins in milky sap harvested from rubber trees, which is then processed into latex. As much as 6 percent of the population have the allergy.
Most people with a latex allergy arent too affected: Usually they get skin reactions like hives or swelling when they touch highly allergenic items like condoms, Band-Aids, or dishwashing gloves. But some people get asthma from breathing in airborne latex proteins. Its also common to become allergic to foods that contain similar proteins to rubber, like avocados, kiwis, and bananas. And, an unlucky few get full-blown, life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, similar to bee-sting allergies: rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, shockor worse.
Latex allergies first made it onto the medical radar in the late 1980s and early 90s, when an alarming number of patients with spina bifida began having severe, life-threatening anaphylaxis during surgery. Around the same time, large numbers of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers were reporting health issues, and even leaving their jobs because of it. Researchers concluded that the culprit was latex.
Latex Allergy Symptoms: What You Should Be Aware Of
Latex condoms are an affordable, reliable birth control method that helps prevent STIs. But what if you have a latex allergy? Its important to be in the know about latex allergy symptoms, and the benefits of using non-latex condoms, in order to stay healthy.
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Various Latex Allergy Foods To Avoid
Are you allergic to latex? Do you know you are also allergic to some foods?
People dealing with latex allergy should limit certain foods since they are not good causing cross-reaction.
Here is the list of latex allergy foods to avoid for preventing cross reaction in people who are allergic to latex.
What Are Important Things To Know About Latex Allergy And Schools
Providing a safe environment for students at school goes beyond food and environmental allergies latex allergy must also be considered. In the school setting, we often see latex allergies in children who have experienced multiple medical procedures, especially children with spina bifida.
Latex appears in items commonly used in school, including many brands of erasers, balloons, rubber bands, gloves, balls and mats used in physical education. The school needs to identify latex-free school products and latex-free sports equipment when a student has an allergy.
All members of the school community should collaborate to manage latex allergy by:
- Educating the school community
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Latex Allergy Immune Response
A latex allergy, also called latex sensitivity or Type I latex hypersensitivity, is an immune response following exposure of genetically predisposed individuals to the proteins in natural rubber latex. These latex proteins are the specific substances or allergens that can simulate the allergic response. More than 200 latex proteins exist, and more than 50 may have the potential to cause allergic reactions.
A person with a potential for developing a latex allergy will have an immune response when first exposed to latex, although no external or physical response may be noted . The immune response initiates production of latex-specific antibodies or immunoglobulins that take part in the development of symptoms when a person is re-exposed to latex These antibodies are also helpful in diagnosing a latex allergy.
An individual with an allergy to latex becomes increasingly sensitized with each subsequent exposure, increasing the potential for the development of a reaction following exposure These symptoms can range from itching to the most severe and potentially fatal reaction , a collapse of the cardiac and respiratory system. The amount of latex exposure needed to produce sensitization or an allergic reaction is unknown However, reductions in exposure to latex proteins have been reported to be associated with decreased sensitization and symptoms.