Latex allergy is a type of allergic reaction that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly identifies latex as a harmful substance and mounts an immune response. Latex is a natural rubber material that is commonly found in a variety of products, including gloves, balloons, and rubber bands.
Symptoms of a latex allergy can range from mild to severe and may include skin irritation, rashes, hives, and itching. In severe cases, a latex allergy may cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that can lead to difficulty breathing and a drop in blood pressure.
The exact cause of a latex allergy is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to the proteins present in natural rubber latex and the individual's genetics and environmental factors. Some people may be more prone to developing a latex allergy due to their genetic makeup or a previous allergic reaction to a different substance.
If you suspect that you have a latex allergy, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider. Your provider may recommend avoiding products that contain latex and may suggest alternative products that do not contain the allergen. They may also recommend allergy testing to confirm the allergy and determine the specific type of latex that you are allergic to.
There are several ways to manage a latex allergy, including avoiding products that contain latex and using alternative products that do not contain the allergen. Also important would be to inform your health care professional of latex allergies prior to undergoing dental work or a medical procedure.
If you need help determining if you have a latex allergy, seek the expert care of a board-certified allergist like Sandra A. Ho, MD in Los Angeles CA.