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Latex Allergy: Symptoms and Treatment

Avoiding latex is the best way to treat a latex allergy. If you’re exposed to latex, get away from it right away. Here are some symptoms to look for and what to do if you have a reaction.

Latex Allergy Symptoms

  • Red, itchy rash where your skin touched latex
  • Swelling right around the site
  • Sneezing, runny nose, teary eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Tightness in your chest

If your skin is red and itchy at the spot where you touched latex, or your nose gets stuffy and you sneeze, those symptoms are uncomfortable but not dangerous. You can take an antihistamine and use a soothing lotion like calamine or a 1% hydrocortisone cream. Avoid antihistamine creams or gels, which can cause a reaction.

You can also have symptoms show up 12-36 hours after coming in contact with latex – that’s called a delayed reaction. The redness and swelling may cover more parts of your body, and you may have crusted sores or blisters.

Those symptoms aren’t usually dangerous, either. Taking an antihistamine and using a hydrocortisone cream should help. If they don’t work, your doctor can prescribe a stronger steroid cream or ointment.

More Severe Reaction to Latex

These symptoms can be life-threatening:

  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Having chest pain
  • Drop in blood pressure

If you have an Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen (epinephrine shot), use it and then call 911. You still need to go to the hospital even if the shot worked.

If you've had a severe reaction in the past, ask your doctor if you need to carry an anaphylaxis kit with an epinephrine shot. Wear a medical alert bracelet, necklace, or other tag. That helps medical teams treat you as quickly as possible.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on November 06, 2012

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