Latex is made from a milky fluid from the rubber tree. It is utilized to produce a variety of products for home and healthcare use such as gloves. Latex allergy is an immune system reaction upon contact to a product made of latex.
If an individual is allergic to latex, the body responds to the proteins in latex as a threat and attempts to protect the body. One is likely to develop a reaction if the individual undergoes medical procedures or working in a healthcare facility and using latex products such as gloves.
Certain foods that include proteins that strikingly resemble the proteins in latex include avocado, bananas, chestnuts and kiwi.
What are the signs?
If an individual is allergic to latex, it is vital to come up with a diagnosis. The signs might manifest over several hours or might arise abruptly and can be serious such as:
- Skin reactions such as eczema, hives, itchiness or swelling
- Rapid heartbeat
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or itchiness around the mouth
- Wheezing, runny nose or difficulty breathing
Management of latex allergy
Remember that there is no specific treatment for the symptoms of latex allergy. For a mild skin reaction, it can be managed with a steroid cream.
If the individual is suspected of a severe reaction, bring him/her to the emergency department. In most cases, it is managed with shots of medication.
Other treatment options include:
- Avoid exposure to objects that might include latex such as gloves, baby products, some tapes and bandages as well as certain forms of clothing.
- For a severe reaction, the doctor might prescribe an auto-injector epinephrine that must be on hand always.
- The individual should wear a necklace or bracelet that includes information about the allergy and what to do in case of an emergency.