How Is a Latex Allergy Diagnosed?
A latex allergy is diagnosed in people who:
- Have experienced signs or symptoms of allergic reaction (skin rash, hives, eye tearing or irritation, wheezing, itching, difficulty breathing) when exposed to latex or natural rubber products
- Do not have signs or symptoms of latex allergy but are known to be at risk for latex allergy and have a positive blood or skin test for latex allergy
Skin testing for latex allergy should only be done with the close supervision of an allergy specialist because of the risk of severe reactions.
How Is Latex Allergy Treated?
Allergic reactions may be treated by removal of the latex product and drug treatment according to the type of symptoms developing. If the symptoms are irritant contact dermatitis, antihistamine and/or corticosteroid medicines may be enough to treat symptoms. Severe reactions should also be treated with epinephrine, intravenous fluids, and other support by hospital or emergency personnel.
If you have a latex allergy, it is important for you to wear a MedicAlert bracelet and carry an emergency epinephrine syringe.
There is no cure for latex allergy, so the best treatment for this condition is prevention.
How Can I Make My Home Safe if I Have a Latex Allergy?
If you're at risk for serious allergic reactions to latex, you must make many lifestyle changes to ensure a latex-safe environment. While it may require leading a more protected and isolated life, you can continue certain activities when precautions are taken. Here are some tips:
- Use basic latex alternatives (see below).
- Keep all shoes, boots, and sneakers in covered containers.
- Never travel alone. Always travel with another person, especially to doctor appointments where you might accidentally come into contact with latex.
- Plan in advance to ensure latex avoidance at any family function or party.
Because a latex allergy becomes worse with each exposure, you should avoid products containing latex. While it is difficult to obtain full and accurate information on the latex content of products, you may become better informed by checking with suppliers before buying a product.
The following list highlights some (but not all) of the latex products you should avoid in the home:
- Rubber sink stoppers and sink mats
- Rubber or rubber-grip utensils
- Rubber electrical cords or water hoses
- Bath mats and floor rugs that have rubber backing
- Toothbrushes with rubber grips or handles
- Rubber tub toys
- Sanitary napkins (that contain rubber)
- Diapers that contain rubber
- 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 VCRs with rubber grips or keys
- Camera, telescope, or binocular eye pieces
- Bathing caps and elastic in bathing suits