Dental Health and Latex Allergy
How Is Latex Allergy Diagnosed?
A skin or blood test can diagnose a 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.
In addition, a person may be diagnosed with a latex allergy if they have experienced signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction (skin rash, hives, eye tearing or irritation, wheezing, itching, difficulty breathing) when exposed to latex or natural rubber products.
What's the Treatment for a Latex Allergy?
Allergic reactions to latex 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 drugs may be enough to treat symptoms. Severe reactions should 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 medical alert bracelet and carry an emergency epinephrine syringe. Epinephrine is the treatment used for severe allergic reactions.
There is no cure for latex allergy, so the best treatment for this condition is prevention. Besides the foods already mentioned in this document, there are other foods that might trigger a latex-like allergic reaction in people with latex allergy. If you suffer from latex allergy, avoid these foods:
- Peaches, plums, and nectarines
- Grapes, strawberries, and cherries
- Wheat and rye
Note: Not all people who have these food allergies will also have latex allergies.
What Precautions Should I Take Before Visiting My Dentist?
If you have a known latex allergy, call your dentist's office at least 24 hours before your scheduled appointment. Your dentist and his or her staff should have a latex-free protocol that they follow for patients with latex allergies. They will also make a note of your allergy in your medical record.
Can I Develop a Latex Allergy From Exposure at the Dentist?
You could develop a latex sensitivity to the gloves. This is different from a latex allergy. With a latex sensitivity, you'd develop a swelling or a rash in the area where the gloves touched you. This would be an irritant contact dermatitis. A true allergic reaction is more serious, is less common, and would cause symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing, full-body rash, and swelling.