What is latex?
Latex is a natural product derived from tropical rubber trees. It is found in many products used in homes, work and schools. Medical and dental environments also commonly contain latex.Latex is important for women with vulval problems because it is found in most condoms.
What is latex allergy?
The protein in latex can cause allergic reactions in some people. Thin, stretchy latex materials like balloons are more likely to cause allergic reactions than solid items like gumboots and tyres.
Latex particles can become airborne and can be inhaled.
When a person has an allergic reaction to latex they can experience:
- A rash where their skin comes into contact with latex containing substances, for example a condom.
- Itchy watery eyes
- Runny nose, coughing or sneezing
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Shock and collapse (anaphylaxis)
Latex allergic persons can also be allergic to some foods
How is latex allergy diagnosed?
A blood test is usually the safest way to do this, however it is not completely accurate. If there is a strong suspicion of allergic skin, prick testing and patch testing can be used by an immunologist or dermatologist.You would need to be referred by your general practitioner.
What products should I avoid?
- Latex gloves
- Latex condoms
- Rubber bands
- Rubber toys
- Feeding nipples and dummies
- Elastic in shower caps and underwear
- Gumboots and other rubber shoes
- Stretchy bandages
- Nappies and sanitary pads
- Handles on bicycles and other equipment
- Food handled by persons wearing latex gloves
What should I do if I am latex allergic?
- Avoid latex products in your environment
- Substitute PVC gloves
- Subtitute PVC condoms(these are not usually found in supermarkets but can be purchased on the internet by searching for PVC condoms).
- Make sure your canteen at school is latex free
- Avoid birthday parties with balloons
- Wear a medic-alert bracelet
- Document your allergy with a blood test
- Tell your doctor, dentist, school and employer
- If you have had a severe reaction you should see an immunologist regarding the use of an epipen