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Living With A Latex Allergy? Learn the Must-Know Signs and Symptoms

Over the years, it has been revealed that many living with latex allergies are those that work in the healthcare industry, or others who are exposed to latex products on a regular basis.

Many don't realized just how much of a common component latex is in many medical and dental supplies, including: disposable gloves, dental dams, airway and intravenous tubing, syringes, stethoscopes, catheters, dressings and bandages.

In addition, latex is also found in many consumer products such as condoms, handbags, balloons, athletic shoes, tires, tools, rubber toys, baby bottles, nipples and pacifiers.

Allergic reactions caused from exposure to latex can range from skin irritation to anaphylaxis. Symptoms can go from mild to serious in a short period of time making it even more vital to consult with your doctor if you begin to notice any symptoms- even ones that may seem subtle. 

You can get exposed to latex:

  • Through the skin, such as when you wear latex gloves
  • Through mucous membranes, such as the eyes, mouth, vagina, and rectum
  • Through inhalation. Rubber gloves contain a powder that can be inhaled
  • Through the blood. This can happen when some medical devices containing rubber are used.

Symptoms of Latex Allergy

Itching- when the skin begins to itch, it’s your body sending a signal that something is irritating it through an allergen. If you begin to notice feeling itchy just after being exposed to latex products, speak with your doctor about possibly using a steroid to find relief, and of course, to avoid these products in the future.

Hives or rash- Everyone feels an itch or the need to scratch your body at least a few times a day, but when the occasional itching turns into a rash forming, then you may have some homework to do. Ask yourself- have you been around latex items recently? Did your rashes develop shortly after the exposure to them? If so, speak with an allergen physician to see what can be done as far as testing to get your symptoms under control and prevent this from occurring in the future.

Sneezing- Sneezing isn't just a sign of a common cold brewing, as it can also be symptomatic of a latex allergy developing. Many don't even consider the possibility of a latex allergy being the cause of their sneezing, or rashes forming, but often this can be the culprit.

Blisters- Blisters are a commonality for those living with a latex allergy, often for those that work in the healthcare industry. Working with your hands all day long helping others can lead to lots of bumps, aches, and blisters which is why so many don't even think twice about it when one develops. If you start noticing one here and there, and are routinely exposed to latex items, it's worth having it checked out.

Sore or swollen throat- This symptom is a tricky one, as a swollen throat can equate a ton of medical issues. Everything from strep throat, the common cold, to a challenge with your lymph nodes can all result in a swelling of the area. But, if you notice a swollen throat along with sneezing, or trouble breathing, it is imperative that you consult with your doctor immediately.

Difficulty breathing, wheezing, and chest tightness- Wheezing and coughing are symptomatic of many colds, flus, and respiratory illnesses, but can also be signs of latex allergy. These asthma symptoms can begin within minutes after exposure to latex containing products.  

Anaphylactic Shock- the most serious allergic reaction to latex is an anaphylactic response, which can be deadly. Anaphylactic reactions develop immediately after latex exposure in highly sensitive people, but anaphylaxis rarely happens the first time you’re exposed.

Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives or swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Wheezing
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Rapid or weak pulse 
MedicAlert Team Member