Categories: Health & Fitness

How does an allergy to latex or condoms manifest?

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Latex is present in many products such as gloves, condoms… and can be allergenic. How do you know if you can’t stand latex? What symptoms in women? The man ? How to treat allergy?

Latex – a substance that comes from the sap of Hevea brasiliensisis present in many products like gloves, condoms, medical equipment… It is a potentially allergenic substance. latex allergy would touch 1 to 5% of the population, especially people exposed to repeated contact such as those working in the medical world. Latex allergy can also occur during sexual intercourse through the use of condoms that often contain it. How to know if you can’t stand latex ? What are the symptoms of a latex allergy? How to treat a latex allergy? What alternatives if you are allergic?

Can you be allergic to latex or condoms?

“Latex allergy is more common than you think because some people aren’t even aware they are allergic” immediately explains Dr. Brice Njomgang, gynecologist. “Sometimes, we discover it during a consultation or an intervention, when the gynecologist or dentist perform an examination with a latex glove : the patient then has an allergic reaction, rednessof the itchinghe describes.

What are the symptoms of a latex allergy?

Symptoms vary from case to case. However, there are very common reactions suggestive of latex allergy.

► Symptoms of the beginning of a latex allergy:

  • Redness
  • The skin in contact with the latex is irritated
  • Itching (irritant contact dermatitis)

► If the patient has inhaled latex particlesthere can be :

  • sneezing
  • A cough
  • Eye irritation (conjunctivitis)
  • In the most serious cases, edema or angioedema (angioedema).
Photo of a latex allergy © Angela Schmidt –

Who are the people most at risk?

Latex allergy can occur at any age, which can be very disabling. People who are very exposed to latex such as nurses would be more likely to suffer. Often, an allergic reaction is also triggered when the patient inhales particles of latex (often from gloves) that have spread through the air.

What causes a latex allergy?

“Recent studies have identified a protein substance present in the rubber which would be the cause of the allergy”, explains the doctor. Being overexposed to this protein would therefore lead to a risk of allergy. A study conducted from 1992 to 1997 measured the prevalence of latex sensitivity among paramedics (nurses, orderlies, etc.): it ranged from 2.8 to 17.0%. “Nevertheless, some people would be predisposed to make antibodies against everyday substances, such as pollen, dust mites or latex. So it’s in their body, and they can’t escape it.” explains the doctor.

“When you strongly suspect you are allergic to latex, the best thing to do is togo see an allergist and determine what one is really allergic to”, explains the doctor. In effect, you can be allergic to two things : protein, or related compounds present in latex products. “The allergist is in the best position to pass testing“, adds the gynecologist. Moreover, it has been proven that there are cross reactions (cross allergies)that is to say that an allergy to latex leads to a greater chance of being allergic to foods, such as bananas, avocado (the cosmetics that contain avocado and should be avoided), the Kiwipapaya, mango, grape, peach, spinach and other foods.

What are the alternatives to latex condoms?

There are several alternatives to latex, such as polyurethane condoms or polyisoprene (male and female condoms). “In addition, there are also hypoallergenic condoms, where the latex has been purified of the allergenic protein”, explains the doctor. For gloves, there are now other materials such as nitrile or vinyl.

What recommendation before an operation?

“This pathology being more and more known, normally, at the beginning of any medical consultation, the doctor will ask you if you are allergic to latex”. But if this is not the case, it is above all necessary to report it before any medical act including latex gloves, such as a descaling at the dentist, a gynecological examination and any surgical intervention. “There are now hospitals that are reducing the use of latex gloves, in favor of vinyl gloves, to alleviate this allergy”, adds the professional. During surgery, people allergic to latex should avoid contact with materials containing latex. The allergic person must be the first to be operated during the day in the operating room in order to avoid contact with latex proteins which may be present after the use of gloves during previous procedures. All members of the team should be aware of the patient’s particular allergy.

In case of latex allergy, the most important thing is toavoid contact with the material. “In the event of allergic manifestations, they can be treated like any type of allergy, with antihistamines or others, depending on the manifestations”, explains Dr. Brice Njomgang. When you are allergic, you must:

  • Know the objects, foods, cosmetics, indoor plants containing latex proteins that can cause allergic manifestations.
  • Systematically report your latex allergy to your doctor, gynecologist, dentist, surgeon and anesthesiologist.
  • During surgery, patients who are allergic must undergo surgery at the beginning of the surgical program in an atmosphere completely free of latex particles.
  • Use vinyl gloves for cleaning.
  • Perform an allergological assessment as soon as a latex allergy is suspected.

Can a latex allergy be (completely) cured?

It is not possible today to get desensitized to latexas is done for very disabling allergies, for example to dust mites or pollen.

Thanks to doctor Brice Njomgang, gynecologist.

#allergy #latex #condoms #manifest

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