What Should I Do if I Have an Allergic Reaction to Latex?
Allergic reactions to latex can range from skin redness and itching to more serious symptoms, such as hives or gastrointestinal problems. True allergic reactions to latex rarely progress to the life-threatening conditions such as low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, or rapid heart rate. However, if left untreated, these conditions could potentially result in death.
If you experience severe symptoms, call your doctor or 911 immediately, or go to the nearest emergency room.
How Is 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 skin test to latex.
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, topically applied 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 serious latex allergy, it is important for you to wear a MedicAlert bracelet and carry an emergency epinephrine syringe if prescribed by your doctor.
There is no cure for a latex allergy, so the best treatment for this condition is prevention.
How Can I Make My Home Safe From Latex?
If you're at risk for serious 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.