What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Latex Allergy, And What Can I Do About It?

Dr. Marc Riedl answers the question: 'Signs And Symptoms Of A Latex Allergy?'

ByMarc Riedl, M.D., Assistant Professor, Clinical Immunology and Allergy, UCLA

— -- Question: What are the signs and symptoms of a latex allergy, and what can I do about it?

Answer: Latex allergy can lead to a number of symptoms. The most common reaction is that it occurs in the skin. And this can either be an immediate reaction in the case of hives, or a delayed reaction where a rash appears several weeks after exposure to latex. Most commonly, these types of skin reactions happen with latex gloves, balloons, or other products that come in contact with the skin.

Other reactions that can occur include respiratory problems. This usually occurs when a person is working with latex and there are aerosolized particles that the patient inhales. And this can lead to nasal symptoms, ocular symptoms or even something such as an asthma attack.

Finally, there are very serious latex allergy reactions such as anaphylactic shock. These generally happen only in the setting of a surgical procedure or another medical procedure where there is very intense, prolonged exposure to latex.

In any case, if latex allergy's suspected it's important to get proper testing from an allergist or other health care provider. This will determine whether it's actually the latex that's causing the problem or some other chemical that can be in rubber products. Occasionally there are other things that can cause reactions that are attributed to latex allergy, but this isn't truly the case. That's why testing is so important.

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