Latex allergy reactions in children

Some children may only have contact sensitivity to latex. Thus, they develop itchy, bumpy, and red rashes on the skin where latex came in contact with. On the other hand, other children really develop allergic reactions other than merely rashes. Reactions are seen when children come in contact with latex products such as rubber balloons.

What are some of the kid’s stuff that may contain latex?

There are some things or toys, kids make use of, which may be latex-containing products. Thus, parents having children with latex allergies must keep these products away from the child. Some of these items include:

  • Toys made of rubber, such as rubber balls
  • Rubber clothing such as raincoats
  • Rubber balloons
  • Pacifiers
  • Infant toothbrush massager
  • Disposable diapers
  • Bottle nipples
  • Band-Aids
  • Art Supplies such as glues, erasers, and others

However, parents must not despair as these items have alternative latex-free products. For instance, there are bottle nipples and pacifiers that are latex-free. Thus, latex-free items can be used by children with latex allergies.

What are the symptoms of latex allergy in children?

The symptoms of latex allergy in children are similar to that of adults. The clinical manifestations include the following:

  • Urticaria or hives visible on the skin surface where latex was exposed
  • Swelling in the face, especially the lips, and eyelids. This is common for children who blew latex balloons.
  • Itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing
  • Airway manifestations such as coughing, wheezing, dyspnea, or hoarseness of the voice

How prevalent is latex allergy in children? 

The rate of latex allergy in children is extremely low. In hospitals, only 4% of children yield positive skin tests for latex allergy. Among these, only 10% develop signs and symptoms upon latex exposure. However, children who undergo multiple operations and hospital procedures have an increased risk of developing latex allergies.

What precautions must be employed to prevent further attacks?

  • Avoid using latex containing products, both at home and in the hospital. Instead, opt to use latex-free ones.
  • Ensure that the child wears a medic-alert bracelet or necklace.
  • Be sure to inform the school, as well as, the hospital about child’s condition.
  • Teach child how to determine products that contain latex, and foods that develop the latex fruit syndrome.
  • Consult the pediatrician about the possibility of using an Epipen in cases of emergency.
  • Be aware of the interventions when allergic reactions occur.

These are some of the important facts parents must be aware of if they have a child who has latex allergies. In this manner, parents can determine the presence of the manifestations of an attack. Moreover, they can prevent further allergic attacks by preventing a child from being exposed to latex products.

Latex fruit syndrome

Latex Fruit Syndrome is a condition wherein a person who ingests several foods develop symptoms similar to latex allergy. This cross-reactivity results because of the presence of similar proteins in certain foods and natural latex. This reaction may occur to people who are positive for latex allergy. Similar to latex allergy, the symptoms of Latex Fruit Syndrome can also range from mild rashes to severe and fatal ones, such as anaphylaxis. On the other hand, people with Latex Fruit Syndrome may also develop hypersensitivity reactions to latex because of the presence of similar substances between them.

How prevalent is the Latex Fruit Syndrome?

Statistics say that among people with latex allergy, 70% of them will yield a positive skin test for at least one food causing Latex Fruit Syndrome, and 50% will have a positive skin test for more than one food causing Latex Fruit Syndrome. On the other hand, a person with Latex Fruit Syndrome has an 86% chance to yield a positive skin test to latex, but only 11% have a chance of developing allergic reactions.

What Foods are well-known to Cross-React with Latex?

There are several foods are known to cause Latex Fruit Syndrome. Most of these foods also cross-react with latex. These foods include Wheat, Tomato, Potato, Pineapple, Passion Fruit, Papaya, Melon, Mango, Kiwi, Eggplant, Chestnut, Cherimoya, Banana, and Avocado.

What are the signs and symptoms of Latex Fruit Syndrome?

Latex Fruit Syndrome develops signs and symptoms that are similar to latex allergies. However, most of the manifestations appear in the digestive system. These signs and symptoms result in varied range of manifestations, from harmless itch and burning sensation in the oral cavity to a fatal shock reaction. Furthermore, these symptoms may last for a few hours to days. At least 30% of the people suffering with Latex Fruit Syndrome will manifest signs and symptoms like:

  • Functional bowel disorders. This syndrome may develop signs and symptoms similar to that of functional bowel disorders.
  • Functional dyspepsia. The signs and symptoms may also be similar to that of functional dyspepsia. Some of these symptoms include nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal cramps and pain.
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysphagia or reflux
  • Skin reactions. A person experiencing Latex Fruit Syndrome may develop skin reactions, which include include urticaria, rashes, and swelling or edema.
  • Respiratory problems. A person with Latex Fruit Syndrome may manifest respiratory signs and symptoms such as sinusitis, runny nose, asthma, and/or bronchitis.
  • Nervous system reactions. Several nervous system reactions, such as inability to concentrate, tiredness, migraines and headaches, chronic fatigue, and psychiatric disturbances are also noted.
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms. There are also musculoskeletal symptoms that develop in some people with Latex Fruit Syndrome. The most commonly manifested and recognized symptom is muscle and joint pain.

It is important for people with either Latex Fruit Syndrome or latex allergy to take note of this information about Latex Fruit Syndrome. This is because both can be benefited from this material. Furthermore, recognizing early signs and symptoms can help prevent the development of the fatal complication, which is anaphylaxis.

Latex condoms allergy

Condoms are one of the most customary approaches to contraception. These devices are selected by most couples because they are economical, user-friendly, non-invasive, and more importantly safe to use. However, condoms can also pose a threat to an individual’s life. This threat is caused by allergies to condoms, specifically because they are made of latex rubber.

How does one confirm if it was really latex that caused the allergic reaction?

Latex allergy can be very mild that it causes simple rashes or extremely severe that it may cause anaphylaxis. Furthermore, frequent exposure to allergens can worsen the succeeding reactions. Thus, it is important for one with condom allergies to stay away from products that stimulate hypersensitivity. There are several tests that can be done to know whether or not a person is allergic to latex. These diagnostic measures include:

  • Skin Prick Test or Scratch Test. This test is carried out by experienced doctors or allergists who apply small amounts of latex onto the surface of the skin. Then, the skin is pricked allowing the latex to penetrate beneath the skin surface. The site will be observed for 20 to 30 minutes. A positive result would yield redness, raised bumps, and hives or swelling on the surface being tested. Furthermore, the individual will have to stay for another 30 minutes to make sure that he or she does not develop anaphylaxis.
  • Skin Patch Test. This test makes use of a skin patch where allergens are applied. This test is used to test for a delayed type of allergic reaction. This patch will stay on the site for about two to seven days. Presence of contact dermatitis signifies a positive test.
  • Radio-Allergo-Sorbent-Test (RAST). This test requires blood sample that is extracted from the individual to be tested for latex allergy. The blood is then brought to the laboratory to be tested for immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies attached to allergens such as latex. If the blood contains IgE antibodies attached to latex’ surface, then that is a sign of hypersensitivity to that substance.

RAST is safer than Skin Prick Test because the person is not exposed to the allergen. However, it is less accurate compared to Skin Prick Test. Most of the time, it yields false positive and false negative results. A false positive result will show there are IgE antibodies to an allergen, but when exposed, allergic reaction does not occur. On the other hand, a false negative outcome will usually result if the allergy has not been recently triggered.

Condoms may be the cheapest and safest form of contraception. However, for those whose lives may be endangered due to hypersensitivity to latex condoms, it is important to find other means of contraception. These people can choose alternative methods with the help of a medical professional.

Latex allergy signs and symptoms

Latexes are natural substances obtained from the milky sap of a rubber tree. It is used in many products such as gloves and condoms. However, there are people whose immune system, when exposed to latex, consider it as an allergen. Thus, the person develops latex allergy. Allergy or hypersensitivity is defined as the response of the immune system when exposed to allergens.

The signs and symptoms of latex allergy vary from simple skin redness to more serious ones. Moreover, there are symptoms, when left untreated, may pose a danger to one’s life. The symptoms of latex allergy are classified into three categories. These categories are (a.) Delayed type Contact Dermatitis, (b.) Abrupt Allergic Reactions, and (c.) Anaphylactic Reactions.

Delayed type Contact Dermatitis
The first cluster of signs and symptoms of the latex allergy is called Delayed type Contact Dermatitis. This type of response is typically activated by the chemicals used in the product. The signs and symptoms may be very exasperating, but nonetheless, they are non-lethal. Furthermore, these conditions appear approximately 12 to 36 hours post-latex exposure. The symptoms under this cluster include:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Scaly appearance of the skin
  • Itchy or irritated Skin

Abrupt Allergic Reactions
The second cluster of symptoms is called Abrupt Allergic Reactions. These responses take place and are visible to people who were beforehand exposed to products containing latex. Therefore, the body’s immune system responds to these allergens through symptoms such as the following:

  • Coughing
  • Itchy and/or watery eyes
  • Itchy or Irritated throat
  • Runny Nose and/or Sneezing
  • Wheezing

Anaphylactic Reactions
The third cluster of symptoms is the most severe type of hypersensitivity reactions. This cluster of symptoms is called Anaphylactic Reactions. Furthermore, these symptoms involve multiple body systems and occur within a few minutes post exposure. These signs and symptoms must immediately be treated, because they may cause death. Thus, once these are observed a physician should be contacted or the person must immediately be rushed to the hospital. The signs and symptoms include one or more of the following:

  • Chest tightness
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysphagia or Difficulty in Swallowing
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Paleness or redness of the face and/or body
  • Passing out or fainting
  • Stomach cramping
  • Swollen areas of the body, specifically the throat
  • Swollen Red rashes or hives that are usually itchy
  • Troubled or labored breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing

Hypersensitivity reactions to latex can range from simple skin redness to more serious ones, such as gastrointestinal discomforts. It is true that allergic reactions to latex rarely progress to life-threatening conditions, such as respiratory and cardiac problems. However, if hypersensitivity is left untreated, it may potentially result in death. Thus, it is important for people being exposed to latex, to know the signs and symptoms of the allergic reaction, especially those that are life-threatening.

Latex allergy rash treatment

Allergic Contact Dermatitis is defined as a skin rash resulting from the exposure of a material or substance to which an individual is hypersensitive or allergic. This is one of the most common symptoms of latex allergy. Allergic Contact Dermatitis may at times need no treatment. However, in more severe cases an individual might begin employing a treatment regimen.

When Allergic Contact Dermatitis occurs, an individual must immediately:

  • Rigorously wash the area where the rashes appear. One must ascertain that all the latex particles that went in contact with the skin are totally washed off. Furthermore, it is also important to keep the rashes clean so that they can heal properly and faster.
  • Take anti-histamines like Benadryl. This medication allows the body to halt the production and discharge of histamine, which causes the symptoms. The drug dosage is dependent upon the individual’s age and weight. One must make sure to read the medication’s label comprehensively to determine the proper dose.
  • Apply an ointment that includes the component Calamine, onto one’s rashes. This topical medication relieves the itching. Furthermore, it also acts as an antiseptic, preventing the rash from aggravating and turning into an infection. Make use of a cotton ball in applying the ointment. Use the ointment as needed to stop the rashes from itching.
  • Moisturizers or emollients can also help keep the skin moist, as well as allowing the skin to repair itself. They also act as anti-inflammatory, preventing the skin from being swollen again. These topical creams play an important role in treating Allergic Contact Dermatitis.
  • Corticosteroid skin ointments and creams can also be used to prevent inflammation. However, one must employ extreme caution when using these creams. Overuse of these products, whether they are those sold over-the-counter or those of low strength, may cause skin conditions.
  • An alternative to corticosteroids are pimecrolimus ointments or tacrolimus creams that can be prescribed by the physician.
  • In serious cases, an individual may need to take corticosteroid pills. A doctor would prescribe them in high doses and then tapered slowly over 12 days.
  • Wet dressings and antipruritic creams or drying lotions can also be recommended to reduce symptoms of rashes.

Moreover, a person with latex allergy must, as much as possible, avoid exposure to latex products. This is because latex allergies progress and rashes could get worse the next time around. Furthermore, individuals with latex allergy must also keep an eye for signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock. Once observed, an individual must immediately seek out for medical treatment. He or she as well can put on a medical-alert bracelet to let others know that he or she is allergic to latex.

Safe condom brands for the latex-allergic

There are a lot of fake and bogus commodities now being sold in the market. Therefore, it is important for an individual to be cautious when purchasing products. The very important thing one must check for in an item or product is whether or not it is approved by USFDA. If the product is USFDA approved, then it is safe to use.

Condoms are among the products that undergo USFDA safety checks and quality control. Thus, if they are FDA approved, they are safe to use. However, it is also important to read the product disclaimer and see if it fits one’s lifestyle. For latex allergic individuals, there are several non-latex condom brands that are very popular in the market and at the same time are safe to use. These non-latex condom brands include:

  • Trojan Ultra Ribbed Ecstasy. Most men picked this brand as their favorite non-latex condom. This condom is designed like a baseball bat, composed of two sets of ribs, and is lubricated in both sides. Most reported that the condom flexed well and the lubrication was long lasting.
  • LifeStyles SKYN. This is one of the most commonly used polyisoprene condom. This condom brand is available in standard and large sizes. Like any polyisoprene condom, it is latex free and is a suitable choice for people with allergy to latex.
  • Durex Avanti Bare. This brand is another polyisoprene condom that is super thin and soft. The materials used in this product are as soft as the skin that an individual using this might forget that he’s using one.
  • FC2. This female condom brand is the innovation of its predecessor FC1, which was manufactured using latex. To address the latex allergy concern, the manufacturers came up with a female condom that is made of synthetic latex. Thus, the birth of FC2. Furthermore, this condom also adapts better to its forerunner, giving the individual a more comfortable feel.
  • Sagami Original 0.02. This non-powdery, odorless condom is made of polyurethane, an alternative substance for latex. This condom is hailed as one of the thinnest condoms available in the market. Despite its fineness, it is three times stronger than most condoms, as proven by several bursting tests conducted. Furthermore, it has better heat transfer than latex condoms. In addition to those mentioned, it also has a smoother and highly transparent surface.

Those listed above are just some of the most common brands used and the safest as well. There are various brands of male and female condoms sold in the market. Men and women alike can choose other brands as long as they make sure that these are FDA approved. With the approval of FDA, it means that the quality and safety of the item were scrutinized.

Latex Allergy and the foods to avoid (cross-reaction)

A person found to have hypersensitivity to latex must also avoid several latex associated foods. These foods are found to contain enzymes that imitate latex proteins as they break down in one’s body. Thus, allergic or hypersensitivity reaction occurs. For instance, avocados are rich with chitinases, an enzyme that has been linked to latex-fruit allergy syndrome. When a person allergic to latex ingests avocado, he or she will develop symptoms the same as that of latex hypersensitivity. Thus, people having allergies to these foods are also at risk for developing hypersensitivity to latex, and vice versa.

These foods are classified according to their degree of involvement or prevalence in latex hypersensitivity. They are classified as to (a.) High prevalence, (b.) Moderate prevalence, and (c.) Low prevalence. It is also important for those at risk for latex hypersensitivity to take note of these foods as they may aggravate or cause allergic reactions. Listed below are the foods arranged according to their prevalence.

  • High Prevalence. Fruits such as Bananas, Avocadoes, and Kiwis show high prevalence of cross – reaction with latex hypersensitivity. Moreover, nuts, such as chestnuts, cashews, almonds, and pecans also belong to this cluster.
  • Moderate Prevalence. Fruits such as Apple, Papaya, Potato, Tomato, and Melons show moderate prevalence of cross – reaction with latex hypersensitivity. Moreover, vegetables such as carrots and celery also fall under this category.
  • Low Prevalence. Crops such as Zucchini, Wheat, Walnut, Sweet Pepper, Sunflower Seed, Strawberry, Soybean, Shellfish, Sage, Rye, Plum, Pineapple, Persimmon, Pear, Peanut, Peach, Passion, Oregano, Nectarine, Mango, Lychee, Hazelnut, Grape Fruit, Fig, Dill, Coconut, Citrus Fruits, Chick Pea, Cherry, Cayenne Pepper, Castor Bean, Buckwheat, and Apricot show low prevalence of cross – reaction with latex hypersensitivity.

There are foods listed above that do not really produce clinically essential reactions to latex-sensitive people. However, these foods are known to share some major or minor allergens with latex. These foods may predispose a latex sensitive individual to cross – reaction with latex hypersensitivity. Thus, a latex sensitive individual and his or her family, knowing this, can curtail the possibility of being exposed to predisposing allergens. Furthermore, they would know that there is a risk involved when these foods are included in one’s diet.

On the other hand, people having allergies to one of these foods must also inform his or her doctor about it, because he or she might also be allergic to latex. This is especially applicable for those who would undergo procedures that make use of gloves, catheters, and other medical paraphernalia that make use of latex.

An Overview on Latex Allergy

Latex is a milky substance found in Hevea brasiliensis trees. These milky juices are used to manufacture natural rubber. Rubber containing latex is used by various types of products in homes and even in hospitals. Some hospital paraphernalia that contain latex include gloves, catheters, and many more. On the other hand, products that are used at home include floorings, rugs, and others.

What is ‘latex allergy’? 
Latex allergy results as a response of the immune system to allergens. In this case, the immune system perceives some protein components of the latex as harmful substances. Thus, the immune system stimulates certain antibodies to combat the allergens. The next time latex exposure occurs, the antibodies tells the immune system to release histamine to counteract to the proteins. This results in the signs and symptoms of allergies such as rashes, hives, dyspnea, and others.

There are two types of allergic reaction to latex. One of these is caused by natural proteins, while the other one is caused by chemicals utilized during the processing of the natural latex. They are known as Type I allergy and Type IV allergy respectively. To discern each,

  • Type IV allergy manifests mild skin irritation and is a less severe and delayed reaction.
  • Type I allergy has a quicker onset and can be fatal.

Moreover, there are rubbers manufactured from petrochemicals whose end product is better known as synthetic rubber. Items made out of synthetic rubber are latex free and do not pose a threat to people with latex allergy.

How does the allergic reaction take place?
The hypersensitivity reaction may occur either through direct contact or through inhalation. Latex allergy through direct contact is the most common method of catching latex allergy. This Allergic reaction occurs when the skin of a person with latex allergies comes in contact with products that contain latex, such as latex gloves, condoms and balloons. On the other hand, hypersensitivity through the method of inhalation occurs when a person with latex allergy breathes in latex molecules when they become airborne. The quantity of latex airborne molecules from latex products is dependent on the brand and its manufacturer.

Who are at risk for latex allergy?
People frequently exposed to latex are at risk for developing latex allergies. For instance, people with spina bifida are at high risk for developing latex allergies. These people are exposed to latex products ever since the day they were born. People who frequently undergo medical procedures or multiple surgeries are repeatedly exposed to latex products. Thus, may put them at risk. Another group of people frequently exposed to latex products are health care personnel. Moreover, rubber industry or factory workers are also at risk and exposed to latex more often. Lastly, people with allergies to foodstuffs can also be at risk for latex allergies.

Genital Latex Allergy Symptoms

Latex is a substance commonly used in elastic products. One of these products include the commonly used contraceptive, condom. Symptoms experienced from latex allergies are usually mild. However, when a person allergic to latex is repeatedly exposed, symptoms may progress and lead to serious reactions that can at times become fatal. Therefore, it is important for one to see a physician for alternative methods of contraception.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of Genital Latex Allergy can help an individual identify the presence of an allergic reaction. Thus, he or she can seek medical treatment and seek the doctor’s help in finding alternative methods. Below are the most common symptoms present during a Genital Latex Allergy:

  • Burning Sensation. This symptom may be experienced on the man’s penis or inside the woman’s vagina. Furthermore, it can also be felt on the skin of any area where the condom has been in contact with.
  • Rashes. This symptom usually appears within 8 hours, post latex exposure. The severity of this may vary from mild to moderate. Furthermore, it may itch or burn, and may be pink or red in color. When scratched, the skin may also appear flaky.
  • Itching. This is the first and a common symptom of many allergies. However, with latex condom allergy this symptom may be bothersome and awkward because it occurs in the genital area. The itching may vary from mild to severe. Females may feel the itching sensation around the vagina, labia and vulva, or may even extend to the inside of the vagina. On the other hand, males experience itching around the penis’ shaft and in the groin area at the base of the penis.
  • Blisters. People with genital latex allergy, whose exposure to latex condoms are prolonged, may eventually develop blisters. These blisters form around the areas repeatedly exposed to latex condoms. These blisters result from the immune system’s response to defend itself against the allergen. Moreover, these blisters should not be popped because it contains histamine. Doing so may spread histamine to other areas of the body resulting to more blisters.
  • Foul-smelling discharge. In some cases, a person with genital latex allergy may have strong and foul-smelling discharges after sex or medical examination.
  • Anaphylaxis. This symptom occurs in severe cases of genital latex allergy. More importantly, it is vital for one with genital latex allergy to know the early signs of anaphylaxis as this may be fatal. The signs include dyspnea or labored breathing, swelling of the oral cavity, tachycardia, and/or chest pain. If these are seen in a person with genital latex allergy, it is important to immediately seek medical treatment.

Knowing the different signs and symptoms of genital latex allergy can help an individual identify the presence of the allergy. Furthermore, knowing that these signs and symptoms are caused by genital latex allergies, would spare an individual from recurrent attacks. More importantly, the person can be spared from the fatal symptoms of the allergic reaction.

Condoms for Latex Allergy

Some condom brands are made of rubber that contain the substance latex. Latex may pose no detriment unless the one using it is sensitive to the substance latex. People having allergies to latex may feel unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms when exposed to this substance. With the obnoxious manifestations sensed, a couple may have difficulty in attaining pleasure. Because of the dilemma faced by condom enthusiasts, the condom industry came across alternative substances in lieu of latex. Thus, the birth of various non-latex condoms. However, among the various types available, there are three United Sates Food and Drug Authority (USFDA) approved condoms that are most preferred by consumers. These are (a.) Polyurethane condoms, (b.) Polyisoprene condoms, and (c.) Female condoms (FC2).

Polyurethane Condoms
Polyurethane condoms are made from a distinctive type of plastic material. Like latex condoms, they are not only capable of preventing pregnancy, but they also reduce the risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), like HIV. Furthermore, these condoms are odorless and tend to have a longer shelf life compared to latex condoms. In addition, this type of condom transfers heat very well between the condom and the skin, making it unnoticeable.

This type of condom was also designed to be thinner and less elastic compared to latex ones. However, these condoms are not as fitting as latex condoms. Therefore, it is important for the couple to be cautious because the condom might slip in extreme movements. Moreover, it is highly recommended that this type of condom be used with silicone-based or water-based lubricant.

Polyisoprene Condoms
Polyisoprene condoms gained approval from the United Sates Food and Drug Authority (USFDA) in 2008. These products make use of synthetic latex materials that are as equally strong as natural latex. These products would not cause allergic reactions because they do not contain the protein of natural latex that triggers a hypersensitivity reaction.