Latex allergy: how it looks and how to manage it

It is important to recognize it to avoid direct contact with latex, especially in a hospital setting.

Latex is found in many objects, from those used in the health sector to commonly used products: gloves, catheters, but also diving masks, mattresses, toys, condoms and much more. In short, everything that is made of rubber, of which latex is the main component.

Although these are apparently harmless objects, the immune system in some cases can react abnormally following contact with this substance, giving rise to a real allergic reaction.

The categories most at risk

Latex allergy can affect anyone, but those who have had prolonged and repeated exposure to this material are most at risk, first of all workers in companies that produce rubber and health personnel.

To these are added children who have undergone various surgeries at an early age (for example in the case of spina bifida or urogenital malformations) and asthmatic or allergic subjects especially to foods such as banana, kiwi, chestnut, avocado, etc.

Beware of symptoms

Being contained in a myriad of objects that we are used to handling daily, but also in a long list of materials used in the case of health procedures or surgery, it is extremely important to recognize the symptoms of a latex allergy, to arrive at a certain diagnosis.

Understanding it is simple: it is sufficient to pay attention to any typically allergic reactions (such as swelling, itching, burning eyes, rhinitis, etc.) that are triggered when you come into contact with latex, for example following a medical or dental examination, but also using condoms or diaphragm, or even wearing fins and mask or inflating a balloon.

Repeated contact worsens symptoms

The symptoms of this allergy are similar to those triggered by other allergens; The mildest usually occur in the skin with the appearance of itching, redness and hives.

Conjunctivitis, rhinitis and asthma are also possible, but the most dangerous occurrence, as with all allergies, is anaphylactic shock.

Repeated contact with latex increases the degree of sensitivity of the allergic subject, and consequently also the severity of the symptoms.

Prevention is the only cure

There is no real therapy against this allergy, beyond the common antihistamines to relieve the milder symptoms.

The first step to control it is to be aware of it and therefore avoid direct contact with latex, especially in hospitals.

Patients with this allergy are in fact in serious danger if they are subjected to outpatient procedures, diagnostic investigations or surgery using material that contains latex: it is therefore good that they always carry a bracelet, a plate or a card that indicate this allergy, so that they are always inserted, even in cases of urgency, In a latex safe path, which involves the use of materials, or even environments, completely free of latex.

Finally, there are some foods that contain proteins similar or identical to those of latex, such as banana, kiwi, avocado, chestnut, peanuts, etc.

It is therefore possible that latex allergy sufferers are also sensitive to these foods, and therefore develop allergic symptoms following their ingestion.

It therefore becomes advisable to avoid its consumption, or at least to verify the possible sensitization.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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