No Fun With Latex Allergy

Though latex is a fun fashion material there are people who have acquired some certain sensitivity to it. Latex allergy is not unheard of. Latex, or rubber, is a natural product made from the milky sap of the rubber tree.

A person with latex allergy is someone who is very sensitive to substances found in natural latex and suffers an adverse reaction when in contact with the material. The thin, and stretchy latex rubber found in gloves, balloons and condoms contains high levels of this protein and is more allergic than other products made of rubber.

What causes latex allergy in people is unknown. But frequent exposure to latex for a long period of time could make the symptoms appear. The main source of latex allergy today is rubber gloves. Other products such as adhesive tape, bandages and most medical equipment also use latex.

Latex allergy symptoms

Latex allergy symptoms can start as mild and then progress to a severe allergic reaction. There are three stages of latex allergy reactions:
• Irritant contact dermatitis – this is the mild allergic reaction to a latex sensitivity. The usual symptoms are dryness, burning, scaling, and itching of the skin.

• Allergic contact dermatitis – this is more persistent latex allergy attack. The symptoms of dryness, itching, burning and scaling of the skin also appear but it spreads to other parts of the body and the burning sensation is very severe.

• Immediate allergic reaction or latex hypersensitivity – this is the worst case of latex allergy attacks. The symptoms show up as allergic rhinitis, with frequent sneezing, runny nose, sinusitis and watery eyes. Then conjunctivitis sets in on the eyes, hives and severe itching follows. This stage is quite rare but if left untreated, the latex allergy attack can become a full-blown anaphylactic shock and can lead to death.

Latex Allergy Treatment

Getting a treatment for latex allergy attacks is done by immediately removing the cause of the allergic reaction. There are medicines that can be used to give relief from the itchiness and swelling of the skin, depending on the degree of the symptoms. For anaphylaxis, the only treatment is a dose of epinephrine.

Latex allergy not only extends itself to rubber products but it is also present in food. There are proteins in rubber that are also found in foods, which is why a person with latex allergy can be misdiagnosed as having food allergy. The foods with similar rubber proteins are banana, avocado, kiwi fruit, chestnut and tomato.

Latex Allergy Prevention

Preventing latex allergy attacks can be done by avoiding contact with rubber or natural latex, using powder-free or those non-latex gloves, steering clear of latex-riddled areas (like the hospital) and sticking to an almost no fruit diet.
As of now, there is no known cure of latex allergy symptoms. The only way to defeat this allergic reaction is by following the doctor’s advice and keeping your environment latex-free.

One final reminder to anyone with a latex allergy. If you think you have one or a doctor diagnosed you, make sure you wear a Medic Alert bracelet. This will alert the hospital staff of your condition and will avoid using any latex product when taking care of you.

It’s really no fun when you have an allergy. The best way to deal with such condition is to stay out of contact with any allergen and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Charlene J. Nuble
For answers to All your frequently asked questions about latex allergy, please go to: Latex Allergy or go to: Allergy Answers or to: All About Allergies

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