What are Latex Allergy Symptoms?

wiseGEEK Writer

Latex allergy symptoms can differ depending on amount of sensitivity to latex. Some people may start with mild reactions that progress to more severe ones if exposure to latex happens again or continues. Others have very severe reactions when the allergy develops. Those exposed to latex may not immediately react to it and have delayed reactions, while others show immediate signs of latex allergy. Symptoms can be classed into three different groups: allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, and latex hypersensitivity.

It is important to let health care providers know about a latex allergy.
It is important to let health care providers know about a latex allergy.

Anyone sensitive to latex might encounter some of the following symptoms upon exposure: wheezing hives, tearing of the eyes, nasal congestion, and rash. Sometimes the latex allergy symptoms are most noted by skin reaction, as is the cases with allergic and irritant contact dermatitis. With allergic contact dermatitis, severe itching or burning of the skin can be noticed and this may be in different places on the body. A person can develop lesions but it doesn’t necessarily occur within a few minutes of latex exposure. Rather, those exposed routinely to latex proteins can have delayed reactions to it and develop this form of latex allergy symptoms.

A latex allergy can be diagnosed using a skin scratch test.
A latex allergy can be diagnosed using a skin scratch test.

More mild is irritant contact dermatitis. It usually has similar latex allergy symptoms to allergic contact dermatitis but they may most occur on parts of the body that have come directly in contact with latex. For example, a person wearing latex gloves might develop rash, burning or lesions on the hands. Doctors are actually not sure that this reaction is caused by allergy, but it can be a sign that people will go on to develop allergies to latex.

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Allergies may manifest as skin rashes.
Allergies may manifest as skin rashes.

The most severe latex allergy symptoms occur when people have hypersensitivity to latex, and these symptoms may occasionally be life threatening and occur immediately after latex exposure. They include developing hives, having extreme trouble breathing, swelling of the throat, and presence of asthma or wheezing. Some people develop vomiting or diarrhea right after latex exposure.

A latex allergy may cause skin hives.
A latex allergy may cause skin hives.

Those with known allergies to latex need to carry epinephrine, and have to be careful because latex is so commonly used. Lots of everyday things have latex, like remote controls, ATM machines, and many birth control devices. This allergy complicates medical procedures and hospitalization because so many things in hospitals, not just gloves, are made of latex. When a person has experienced latex allergy symptoms in the past, they should definitely have a medical bracelet noting this fact, and should do all possible to avoid further latex exposure. If there is doubt about a latex allergy, a skin scratch allergy test can be used to confirm.

Latex may cause allergic or irritant contact dermatitis.
Latex may cause allergic or irritant contact dermatitis.
Latex allergy symptoms, which can be triggered by items such as latex condoms, can cause wheezing, hives, tearing of the eyes, nasal congestion and rash.
Latex allergy symptoms, which can be triggered by items such as latex condoms, can cause wheezing, hives, tearing of the eyes, nasal congestion and rash.

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