Up to 6% of the general population and 8 to 12% of healthcare workers have a latex allergy. Other employees who work in an occupation that uses latex gloves such as a salon, food service industry, tattoo parlor, automotive repair facility, and police or fire stations, are also at risk for sensitivities.
You may have an allergy if you are experiencing common latex allergy symptoms. A latex reaction can become life-threatening if left untreated.
Keep reading to learn about latex allergy symptoms, how to treat them, and how to avoid reactions.
Minor Latex Allergy Symptoms
If you have a minor latex allergy or come into minor contact, look out for these reactions.
- Hives (large bumps on the skin that are itchy)
- Itching and/or red skin
- Swelling at the place of contact (usually hands)
- Stuffy or a runny nose
- Itchy or watering eyes
Skin reactions are less common in today's society, as most health services have switched to non-latex gloves to be on the safe side.
Treatment for Minor Reactions
Try taking an oral antihistamine or lathering the skin with an antihistamine gel or lotion. Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream may also be effective. Apply the creams every few hours until symptoms subside.
If you are experiencing congestion, take an over-the-counter decongestant or nasal spray.
Natural home remedies can help soothe and heal allergic reactions.
For skin rashes, try soaking in an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory and moisturizing. Be sure to use warm water, as heat can worsen the itch.
Apple cider vinegar is another remedy for a rash. It can pull toxins out of the skin with its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It is also known to reduce inflammation.
In fact, you can use apple cider vinegar to help relieve all allergy symptoms. Simply drink a tablespoon in a mixture of water or tea each day.
For itch relief, try lavender oil, aloe vera, or cocoa butter.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin allergy that occurs after wearing latex gloves or products. Symptoms will begin 1 to 3 days after using the gloves.
Contact dermatitis will resemble eczema or blisters. They are most often found on the back of the hands and mistaken for poison ivy.
Treatment for Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Remedies for allergic contact dermatitis due to a latex allergy are similar to treatments for minor reactions. Take an over-the-counter or prescribed antihistamine and use hydrocortisone creams on the hands.
For serious cases, your doctor may prescribe a steroid medication or ointment stop the inflammation and spreading of the rash.
You can try using the home remedies mentioned above to soothe the dry skin and inflammation.
Severe Latex Allergy Symptoms
Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. Watch for these reactions within minutes of exposure to latex:
- Asthma-like symptoms such as trouble breathing, wheezing, and chest tightness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Feeling dizzy and/or weak
- Drop in blood pressure
- Chest pain
If you experience any of the symptoms above, your allergy is likely severe and you should see a doctor right away.
Treatment for severe latex reactions
Use an epinephrine pen if you have one. Next, call 911, even if the auto-injection helps. The medical team will likely give you a steroid injection and treat your symptoms accordingly.
If you know you have an allergy, order and wear a medical alert identification bracelet or necklace. This can save your life if you have a severe reaction in the future, as it informs medical personnel how to best treat you.
If you have a latex allergy, you should avoid places and products that may contain latex. Call your physician, clinic, or hospital before arrival to make sure they do not use latex gloves.
Always document your allergy in your medical paperwork, too.
There are other times besides rubber gloves that may contain latex. You should avoid balloons, condoms, and any products made of natural rubber.
Always make sure to wash your produce, too, (even if it's canned or frozen) as many items are prepared with latex gloves.
Lastly, carry allergy medicine including antihistamine and an Epi-pen (if necessary) at all times in case of contact. There are more than 40,000 products that contain latex. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Many people who have latex allergies also have food allergies or sensitivities. This is because latex is a natural rubber made from the sap of the Hevea brasiliensis tree.
Some fruits, vegetables, and nuts are termed "cross-reactive foods" because they have proteins associated with natural latex. These, as well as lactiferous plants, can cause concern for people who are allergic to latex.
The most likely foods to cause allergic reactions include banana, chestnut, kiwi, and avocado.
If your allergy is severe, you should also avoid apples, papaya, potatoes, celery, carrots, tomato, and melons. You can find a full list of latex associated foods on the American Latex Allergy Association website.
Have no Fear, Latex-Free Gloves are Here
Don't let your latex allergy symptoms get in the way of your profession or hobbies. Today, there are many alternatives to traditional latex gloves on the market that work just as well.
At My Glove Depot, we offer latex-free vinyl gloves as well as synthetic disposable gloves. Our synthetic gloves are available in a variety of materials including nitrile and chloroprene. Plus, all our glove options come in many different colors so you don't have to give up the personality.
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If you have questions regarding our products, please contact us toll-free.