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Latex Allergy Checklist

When you're sensitive to latex, you can get a headache, rash, or have a serious reaction from balloons, bathmats, elastic bands, and many other products. The best thing to do is avoid anything that has latex.

Here's how to stay safe.

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At Home

  • Use non-latex gloves for cleaning, washing dishes, and other household chores.
  • Check clothes for elastic waistbands or rubber soles. Even the elastic in socks and swimsuits can have latex. Don't wear rubber raincoats and rain boots.
  • Check your bathroom for latex condoms, rubber bathmats, and rubber grips on toothbrushes.

At Work and School

  • Use paper clips instead of rubber bands. Don’t use erasers.
  • Stay away from craft items like paint and rubber cement.
  • If you work in a job where people wear gloves -- cleaning, food service, or beauty work, for example -- ask to switch to latex-free products.

In Medical Settings

  • Call ahead before any doctor or dentist appointment and tell them about your allergy.
  • Set your appointment for the first thing in the morning. There's less chance that latex particles will be in the air then.
  • If you're going in the hospital, tell all doctors, nurses, and schedulers about your latex allergy. Everything from stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs to IV tubing can have latex.

Other Tips

  • Be careful with antihistamines. They may hide your reaction to any latex in the air.
  • Wear a medical ID bracelet or carry a card that identifies your allergy.
  • Check labels on everything. Don't assume that something labeled "hypoallergenic" is latex-free.
  • If you know you might have a serious allergic reaction, carry injectable epinephrine, such as an Auvi-Q or EpiPen.
  • Watch what you eat. Some people with latex allergies have reactions to foods such as bananas, avocados, kiwis, and chestnuts.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on October 13, 2012

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