What to Avoid With a Latex Allergy
A latex allergy is triggered when you come into contact with some proteins present in natural rubber latex. If you are allergic to latex, your body will mistake it for a harmful substance and start reacting to it. An allergy to latex can cause: skin itchiness, hives, and even anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening condition that can cause throat swelling, which can block a person’s air flow.
Understanding a latex allergy and identifying the common sources of this allergy can be helpful in preventing an allergic reaction. Read this oneHOWTO article to find out more information about this allergy, and what to avoid with a latex allergy.
What products contain latex?
Latex comes from the sap of Hevea brasiliensis. Hevea brasiliensis is a rubber tree which can be found in South East Asia and Africa. A person who has sensitivity to this protein, present in natural rubber latex- will develop an allergy to latex.
Latex is commonly used in a number of dental and medical supplies, including: disposable gloves, syringes, dental dams, intravenous tubes, airway tubes, stethoscopes, dressings, bandages and catheters. A number of consumer products also contain latex, such as: condoms, balloons, handbags, tires, waistbands, underwear, athletic shoes, baby bottles, rubber toys, pacifiers and nipples. Remember, natural latex must not be confused with artificial rubber made with chemicals. It is important to understand that even though one can experience an allergic reaction to natural latex, this is not necessarily the case with synthetic latex.
Tips to Avoid Latex Allergy
- While washing dishes, cleaning and doing other household chores at home, wear non-latex gloves only.
- Make sure the clothes you wear do not contain any rubber soles or elastic waistbands. In addition, check that your swimsuits and socks are latex-free.
- Don’t wear rubber rain boots and rain coats.
- Keep your bathroom clean from any rubber bath mats, toothbrushes with rubber grips.
- At work or at school, don’t use erasers, use paper clips in place of rubber bands.
- Don’t use craft items that contain latex, such as rubber cement and paint.
- If you need to wear gloves at work, such as at beauty parlors, restaurants, cleaning companies etc, switch to gloves made from a non-latex material.
- While visiting a hospital, clinic or medical office, call before your appointment and inform them about your latex allergy. Try to get the first appointment in the morning, as there are chances of having minimum latex particles in the air at that time. All the nurses, doctors and attendants should be aware of your allergy, so that they can arrange non-latex: IV tubing, stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs.
- Check labels of everything without assuming that everything labeled as ‘hypoallergenic’ is free from latex.
- Use latex-free condoms.
- Some people with latex allergies can develop reactions to certain food products, such as: bananas, apples, avocados, carrots, melons, papayas, tomatoes, celery, raw potatoes, kiwis and chestnuts. So, beware while consuming these products.
Causes of a latex allergy
When your body is allergic to latex, your immune system identifies the trigger as a harmful substance and produces antibodies to fight against it. Whenever you are exposed to a product containing latex, these antibodies cause your immunity to release histamine into your blood and trigger symptoms of allergy. The greater your exposure is, the stronger your bodily response will be.
Latex allergy is caused:
- Through direct contact: An allergic reaction to latex is most commonly triggered when you come in direct contact with a product containing latex, such as: latex balloons, condoms or gloves.
- Through inhalation: Certain latex products, such as latex gloves, release particles of latex into the air. If you are allergic to latex, you may inhale these particles and develop an allergic reaction. The amount of latex particles released into the air greatly differs from one product to another.
Risk factors of a latex injury
Some people have increased risk of suffering from a latex allergy than others. These people include:
- People suffering from Spina Bifida. Spina bifida is a birth defect which causes an abnormal development of the spine. Those with this condition have highest risk of developing latex allergy, because they were exposed to latex at a very early age and too very frequently. People suffering from spina bifida disorder should avoid latex.
- People who have gone through a number of medical procedures and surgeries, that experience frequent latex contact.
- Those working in the healthcare industry have increased risk of suffering from a latex allergy.
- Workers in the rubber industry are repeatedly exposed to latex, due to which their sensitivity to latex increases and they develop an allergy towards it.
- People who have a family history of allergies have increased risk of developing an allergy to latex, especially if food allergies or hay fever is common.
What to avoid if you have a latex allergy
An allergic reaction to latex can be successfully prevented by avoiding products that contain latex. Some of such products include:
- Balloons, rubber toys, racket handles, motorcycles and bicycle handgrips.
- A number of baby products, such as disposable diapers, baby bottle tops.
- Intimate products, such as condoms and diaphragms.
- Medical supplies, such as: blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, intravenous tubing, syringes, respirators, electrode pads, surgical masks, dental dams etc.
- Certain types of carpeting.
- Dishwashing gloves.
- Hot water bottles.
- Rubber bands.
- Swimming goggles.
How to prevent trigger of latex allergy
If you are allergic to latex, you should avoid coming into direct contact with all devices and products containing latex. In addition, avoid any food product that may trigger your latex allergy symptoms. If you are going for a dental, surgical or medical procedure, then you can prevent triggering by informing the healthcare professionals about your allergy beforehand.
They will arrange a latex-free area for your treatment or procedure. If you have serious allergy to latex, we recommend wearing a medical allergy bracelet or carrying an I-card so that other people know that you suffer from this allergy. You should also carry an adrenaline auto-injector for treatment in case of an emergency.
Diagnosis and treatment of a latex allergy
Finding out whether you are allergic to latex can, at times, prove to be challenging. There are many products that contain latex and it can be difficult to identify what the trigger may be. Your physician should observe your skin and ask you a few questions about your medical history and symptoms. Inform them about how your body reacts to latex and whether you have experienced any signs and/or symptoms. After ruling out other the triggers of this allergy, your doctor will be able to determine whether you have latex allergy or not. A skin test may also be conducted to see the way in which your skin reacts to latex protein. Blood tests may also be performed to confirm this ¡allergy.
Although there is no cure when it comes to treating a latex allergy, certain medicines may be used to reduce its symptoms. The only way to prevent an allergic reaction to latex is by avoiding products which contain latex. If you do happen to develop an allergic reaction and are suffering, you might need an immediate injection of adrenaline. The severity of allergic reaction can be reduced by administration of corticosteroids or antihistamines. If you take these medicines after coming into contact with latex, you will be able to control your allergic reaction and relieve future symptoms.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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