How to Live With an Allergy to Latex
Latex is produced both naturally and synthetically and it is used in a wide range of products and materials. Many of these products are commonly found in both the home and the workplace. Depending on the severity of your reaction to latex, these products might cause mild symptoms to occur or may pose a serious threat to your life. You'll want to work with your doctor to discover how serious your allergy is, which steps you can take to deal with your symptoms and learn how you can avoid coming into contact with latex.
Avoiding Contact with Latex
Don't touch or inhale latex.Latex is found in many products and even in some plants. Coming into contact with latex is enough to trigger a reaction in someone with an allergy. To help you avoid having an allergic reaction to latex, you'll want to avoid the two most common forms of latex contact:
- Direct contact with latex is the most common way an allergic reaction can occur. Depending on how allergic you are to latex, even a light touch could cause a reaction.
- Latex particles are all possible to be inhaled. Inhaling latex will cause a reaction if you have an allergy and may have an effect on your respiratory system, resulting in a potentially dangerous medical situation.
Avoid products that contain latex.Unfortunately for people with a latex allergy, many everyday products contain latex. Because of this, it's important for you to carefully read product labels and learn which products contain latex. Knowing which products to avoid can help you prevent future allergic reactions to latex. Take a look at some of the following examples of products that commonly contain latex:
- Some foods may trigger reactions in people with latex allergies. Try to avoid foods like avocado, chestnuts, bananas and kiwis.
- Rubber toys, balloons, shower curtains, pacifiers, bandages, elastic, rubber bands and some adhesives are examples of household products that can contain latex.
Find products to replace those that contain latex.Because so many products contain latex, you'll want to find other products with which to replace them. Thankfully, there are many latex free products that you can switch to, allowing you to avoid future allergic reactions. Take a look at some of these examples to get an idea of which products you can replace with latex free alternatives:
- Vinyl gloves can be a good replacement for gloves that contain latex.
- Use condoms made from polyurethane or polyisoprene instead of latex.
- You can try using cotton based bandages instead of ones that may contain latex.
- Try to shop for clothing that is elastic free, as elastic usually contains latex.
- For a detailed list of products that are latex free, visit
Inform others about your allergy.Tell other people about your allergy to help reduce your chances of coming into contact with latex. Your friends, family or coworkers can all help by keeping latex based products away from you or by providing safer alternatives. Let those around you know about your latex allergy to help prevent a future allergic reaction.
- Tell your doctor and other health care providers about your allergy.
- Talk to those in your workplace about your allergy.
- Let your family and friends know about your allergy.
- Consider wearing a medical bracelet that informs others about your allergy to latex.
Identifying the Severity of Your Allergy
Seek medical help if you have severe reactions to latex.For people with severe reactions to latex, anaphylactic shock is a possibility. Before a medical emergency arises, talk with your doctor to learn more about potentially severe reactions to latex. If you notice any of the following allergic reactions to latex, seek immediate medical care:
- Swelling or hives
- Feeling nauseous or vomiting
- Unusually low blood pressure of feeling dizzy or faint
- Loss of consciousness or confusion
- Difficulty breathing
Look for signs of a mild allergic reaction.Some people with latex allergies will only have mild reactions. These reactions will generally be no cause for serious alarm. Knowing your symptoms after coming into contact with latex can help you work with your doctor to understand how serious your allergy is. Review these common symptoms of a mild latex allergy to learn more about your condition:
- You might feel itchy in the area where you came in contact with latex.
- You may notice redness appearing in the areas you've touched latex.
- Rashes or hives may occur after contact with latex.
Know what to look for if you have more significant reactions to latex.Occasionally, some people will have more severe reactions to latex. These reactions, although generally not life-threatening, can still be cause for concern. Talk with your doctor if you notice any of the following allergic reactions to latex to learn more about your allergy:
- You begin sneezing or having a runny nose after touching latex
- Eyes feel itchy or start watering
- Difficulty breathing
- Wheezing, coughing or a scratchy throat
Treating Allergy Symptoms
Talk with your doctor to learn how severe your latex allergy is.If you suspect that you have an allergy to latex, you'll want to speak to your doctor to learn more about your condition. Your doctor will be able to test if you are allergic to latex and discover how serious your allergic reactions might be. Knowing what to expect from your latex allergy can help you avoid contact with latex, manage symptoms and obtain emergency care if you have a severe allergy.
- Your doctor can perform skin tests to gauge how strongly your body reacts to latex.
- You can give a blood sample to your doctor to be tested for allergies to latex.
Ask your doctor about carrying an epinephrine pen.If you have a severe and possibly life-threatening allergy to latex, your doctor may prescribe you an epinephrine pen. This shot will help mitigate your allergic reaction and give emergency services time to reach you after a dangerous reaction to contact with latex. Talk with your doctor to learn more about epinephrine pens and if one is right for you.
- Your doctor will be able to instruct you on the proper use of an epinephrine pen.
- If you are prescribed an epinephrine pen, you'll want to carry it with you in case of emergencies.
Take antihistamines to manage your symptoms.If you have mild allergic reactions to latex, you can help manage your symptoms by taking antihistamines. Antihistamines are used to reduce most common symptoms brought on by allergies, including some reactions to latex. Ask your doctor if an antihistamine prescription is right for you.
- Antihistamines can help make you more comfortable after exposure to latex.
- Antihistamines may only be appropriate if your reactions are mild or moderate.
Avoid all contact with latex.Since there is no cure for an allergy to latex, you'll need to avoid all contact with it. Avoiding contact is the only method of preventing future allergic reactions to latex. Keep some of these tips in mind to help you avoid latex:
- Learn which products contain latex.
- Find products to replace those containing latex.
- Tell those that you know about your allergy and how they can help.
- Always inform medical staff about your allergy.
- Consider wearing a bracelet that lets others know about your allergy to latex.
- Talk with your doctor to learn more about your allergy.
Be prepared for medical emergencies.If you've accidentally come in contact with latex and are having a severe reaction, you'll need to contact emergency services. Emergency services will be able to manage your symptoms until the allergic reaction comes to an end. If you are having a severe reaction to latex, don't hesitate to contact emergency services or have someone take you to an emergency room.
- In the United States, dial 911 to contact emergency services.
- You may need to provide basic information about your condition and location.
- If you are traveling, make sure you have the local phone number for emergency services ready.
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