Latex allergy – Symptoms, causes and treatment

Latex allergy means that you are allergic to the latex rubber material, which is found in gloves, for example. It is estimated that about 1-2 percent of Sweden’s population suffer from latex allergy.

What we call “latex” usually consists of natural rubber from the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis. There are also some types of synthetic latex, but these usually do not cause any inconvenience because they do not contain the protein from the rubber tree that triggers allergy. Latex allergy began to be noticed as more and more people who worked in healthcare developed allergies as latex was used more and more.

Common products with latex

Today there is another awareness of latex allergy. This knowledge has led to latex products being used sparingly or replaced by other alternatives, such as synthetic materials.

Some examples of latex products are:

  • household Gloves
  • cosmetics
  • condoms
  • rubber boots and shoe soles
  • pacifiers and baby bottles

It is common for those who are allergic to latex also have a so-called cross allergy and are allergic to banana, kiwi, avocado and mango.

Symptoms of latex allergy

Some common symptoms of latex allergy are:

  • hives
  • blisters
  • Itching
  • clogged or runny nose
  • respiratory problems

The time before the symptoms occur varies. It can be anything from a few minutes to several hours after contact with the material. In exceptional cases, the severe allergic reaction to anaphylaxis is experienced.

Causes of latex allergy

When allergic to latex, you react to the protein contained in the material. The most common cause of latex allergy is that you often come in contact with latex. The risk is greatly increased if you have undergone many surgical procedures or work in an operating room or in a dialysis department. The same applies if you work with another profession where you regularly come in contact with latex.

Those who have other allergies have an increased risk of suffering from latex allergy. So-called cross allergy is not uncommon. Cross allergy means that people with allergies to certain foods can react to latex. People with hand eczema are more likely to develop latex allergy.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of latex allergy can be made by skin prick test or blood test. Skin prick testing is recommended as it is more accurate. In a skin prick test, the skin is exposed to a small dose of the substance that the person is believed to be allergic to. If you are allergic, the skin reacts by rash.

Treatment and prevention of latex allergy

The most important step in diagnosing latex allergy is to stop using or coming into contact with latex products. Symptoms usually disappear shortly after stopping contact with the material. When you want to treat the symptoms of latex allergy after coming into contact with the substance, it is best to use cortisone creams or softening creams.

When a younger child is operated on repeatedly, latex-free gloves should be used to prevent latex allergy. The same can be recommended for healthcare professionals who come in contact with latex on repeated occasions. Pay attention to any cross-reactions to fruits or seafood.

When should you seek care?

If you suspect you have latex allergy, you can contact a health care center to have an allergy investigation.

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