The American Latex Allergy Association states that about 1% of the US population has an allergy to natural rubber latex. This amount sounds tiny, however that small percentage equates to about 3 million people. Those who are at the highest risk for developing latex allergies include the following:
- healthcare related professionals who frequently wear latex gloves
- people with chronic conditions that require contact with healthcare workers
- people who work in the rubber industry
- some people with certain food allergies
What products contain latex?
Natural rubber latex is derived from the sap of a rubber tree grown in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. People who become allergic to latex do so due to frequent exposure to the proteins in the latex.
Latex is a common ingredient in many medical and dental supplies including disposable gloves, dental dams, syringes, catheters, dressings, bandages, airway and intravenous tubing, and stethoscopes.
Latex is also found in products like condoms, elastic waist and leg bands in underwear, rubber toys, baby bottles, nipples, pacifiers, purses, sneakers, tires, and some mechanical tools.
What does a latex allergy look like?
An allergic reaction can occur very quickly after exposure to products containing latex. A latex allergy can manifest as hives, itchy skin, a runny nose, and watery eyes. Symptoms can be more serious for some latex allergy sufferers including an asthma attack to full on anaphylaxis, a reaction where a person quickly falls into shock due to low blood pressure. Anaphylaxis is usually accompanied by severe difficulty in breathing.
Advances in medical technology mean that skin problems and other allergic reactions caused by latex products are becoming less of a problem within hospitals and dental facilities as suppliers are switching to non-latex or low-protein latex gloves.
How is a latex allergy diagnosed?
In order to officially diagnose a latex allergy, you must go to an allergist for a blood test. Should the blood test turn out to be negative, some allergists will turn to a skin allergy test for final results.
How to prevent allergic reactions from latex
The best way to prevent a latex allergy is to avoid latex materials altogether. It is important to wear a medic-alert bracelet should you find yourself in an emergency room and unable to communicate on your own. Keep an epinephrine (or EPI Pen) close-hand should you have an unexpected allergic reaction.
Severe allergic reactions to latex are mostly avoidable. If you work in an environment where latex products are used regularly, communicate with your supervisor to let them know of your allergy. Most employers can accomodate their employees, or the entire office, with non-latex products.
About RAMC: Located in Redondo Beach, CA. Riviera Allergy Medical Center (RAMC) provides a medical facility for a wide range of allergy and asthma related conditions, from nasal allergies and hay fever to skin allergy conditions and scalp eczema. If you or your children are in search of seasonal allergy relief, skin allergy treatment, sinus problems or headaches, or have shown signs of an ibuprofen allergy, you are encouraged to contact the team at RAMC. The office also may be contacted by phone at 310-792-9050. Visit the site at http://RivieraAllergy.com
Be Allergy Free With Dr. Z! Listen to satisfied patients below.
To schedule an appointment, please call our office at 310.792.9050 or use our online Request an Appointment form. For additional information on any condition, treatment or procedure, please visit our Health Education Library.