Latex allergy is basically a reaction to proteins that are present in natural rubber latex which is a product manufactured from fluid produced by the rubber tree. In case an individual is allergic to latex, the body mistakes latex as a dangerous substance. This allergy can also be due to allergic reactions that range from runny nose, sneezing or even anaphylaxis. Your doctor can determine if you are allergic to latex or at risk for developing one.
Symptoms of latex allergy
If an individual is allergic to latex, being in contact with latex usually in rubber gloves or inhaling latex particles that are airborne can trigger a reaction. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and this depends on the sensitivity and the amount of allergen exposed to. Take note that the reaction can worsen if exposure to latex is repeated. The mild symptoms include:
- Redness of skin
- Rashes or hives
The severe symptoms of the allergy include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, cough, difficulty breathing, wheezing and scratchy throat.
If an anaphylaxis develops after exposure to latex, the signs and symptoms include wheezing, difficulty breathing, dizziness, low blood pressure, confusion, rapid or weak pulse and loss of consciousness. It is important to seek emergency medical care if an individual has an anaphylactic reaction.
Causes of latex allergy
In this type of allergy, the immune system recognizes latex as a harmful substance. The immune system triggers certain cells to generate IgE antibodies to combat the allergen. If an individual comes in contact with latex, the IgE antibodies will recognize it and trigger the immune system to release histamine into the bloodstream. Always remember that allergy to latex can manifest in various ways:
- Direct contact such as wearing gloves made out of latex or touching products that contain latex.
- Inhalation of latex particles present in the air. In latex gloves, cornstarch is oftentimes used on the interior so that the gloves are easy to put on and remove. The cornstarch basically absorbs the latex proteins and when the gloves are snapped when wearing or removal, the cornstarch containing the latex particles flies into the air.
Treatment for latex allergy
There are medications that can minimize the symptoms of latex allergy but there is no cure. Understandably, prevention is the best approach and this is possible by avoiding products that contain latex. Nevertheless, even though you try hard to avoid latex, there are still instances that you can still get in contact with the allergen. For those who have a previous allergic reaction to latex, it is important to carry an EpiPen at all times.
For minor allergies, antihistamines are prescribed that can be taken after exposure to an allergen in order to relieve discomfort as well as control the reaction. For the skin reactions caused by latex allergy, creams can be applied.