Live Comfortably With Latex Allergies!

Latex Allergy Testing & Treatment in St. Louis

Get personalized testing and treatment for your latex allergies. Dr. Sonia Cajigal is a board-certified allergist that has helped countless patients navigate latex allergies in the greater St. Louis area. Schedule your visit with St. Louis Family Allergy today!

“Dr. Cajigal was friendly, professional, and informative. She took the time to explain the tests and what was going on with my allergies. She is so knowledgeable and really cared about how I was feeling. I would highly recommend this practice if you suffer from allergies and asthma.”

– Sue D, July 2020

Latex Allergy Doctor Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy in St. Louis, Missouri
Latex Allergy Doctor Dr. Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy review badges and affiliations

About Latex Allergy

What Causes Latex Allergy
Latex Allergy Symptoms
Latex Allergy Testing
Latex Allergy Treatment

What Causes Latex Allergy?

Natural rubber latex is a milky fluid found in rubber trees. It is used to make gloves, balloons, erasers, toys, bottle nipples, pacifiers, condoms, and several other everyday items. Importantly, many of these products can also be made with alternatives to natural rubber latex. Natural latex should not be confused with synthetic latex, which is not made with natural latex and does not trigger allergic reactions in individuals that are allergic to natural rubber latex.

A latex allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to latex exposure. Latex allergy can occur by way of direct skin contact or by inhalation. Direct contact is the most common form of exposure, occurring when you touch latex-containing products, including latex gloves, balloons, or condoms. Latex products, especially gloves, can also release latex particles into the air, which can then be inhaled, triggering an allergic reaction. The more times you are exposed to latex, the more strongly your immune system is likely to respond. This is called sensitization.

It’s also possible to have other skin reactions when using latex products. Chemical additives in latex products can cause allergic contact dermatitis or irritant contact dermatitis, the latter of which is not an allergic response.

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in St. Louis, Missouri

Latex glove on hand causing latex allergy

Who Is At Risk For Latex Allergy

Some individuals are at greater risk of developing a latex allergy:

  • Due to sensitization, people who undergo multiple surgeries or medical procedures are at an increased risk of latex allergy due to repeated exposure to latex gloves and medical products. Healthcare workers share this risk, as they can be frequently exposed to latex.
  • Rubber industry workers often experience frequent exposure to latex, which may increase sensitivity.
  • A family history of other allergies, such as hay fever or a food allergy, put you at an increased risk of developing latex allergy.
  • The risk of latex allergy is highest in people with spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the development of the spine. People with this disorder are often exposed to latex products through early and frequent health care. People with spina bifida should always avoid latex products.

Latex Allergy List

Many everyday items contain natural latex, including:

  • Rubber household gloves
  • Balloons
  • Erasers
  • Elastic in clothing
  • Rubber balls
  • Bandages (adhesives)
  • Foam mattresses and pillows
  • Rubber bands
  • Condoms and diaphragms
  • Medical gloves
  • Dental products (wedges, orthodontic rubber bands)
  • Catheters

This is only a fraction of the items that may contain latex. If you are experiencing allergic reactions from an unknown source, you may want to take stock of the many items that you’ve been exposed to recently.

Latex Allergy Food List

Individuals with latex allergy can sometimes have reactions to certain fruits and vegetables that contain proteins that are structured similarly to latex. These foods are called latex cross-reactive foods. Latex cross-reactive food allergies occur in roughly 30-50% of people with latex allergy. These allergic reactions can occur after eating, touching, or smelling cross-reactive foods.

These foods have a high cross-reactivity with latex, meaning that individuals with latex allergy are more likely to experience allergic reactions when exposed to these foods:

  • Banana
  • Chestnut
  • Avocado
  • Kiwi

The foods below have moderate cross-reactivity with latex. While individuals with latex allergy are less likely to experience allergic reactions to these foods than the foods above, allergic reactions are still possible.

  • Apple
  • Tomato
  • Potato
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Melons
  • Papaya

Several other foods have low or undetermined cross-reactivity with latex, including many common fruits, vegetables, shellfish, nuts, and seeds not listed above.

See a Latex Allergy Doctor

in St. Louis, Missouri

Woman reacting to latex allergy rash on hand

Latex Allergy Symptoms

Because latex allergy can be triggered by inhalation or direct contact, symptoms can affect the skin or the respiratory system. Common latex allergy symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Skin redness
  • Hives or rash
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Scratchy throat
  • Difficulty breathing

Latex allergy is often discovered in specific situations. Common latex exposure scenarios include:

  • Itchy, red, or swollen skin after using a bandage and/or latex gloves
  • Swelling or itching of the mouth or tongue after a dentist uses latex gloves
  • Itching or swelling after vaginal or rectal exams
  • Itching or swelling after using a condom or diaphragm
  • Itchy or swollen lips after blowing up a balloon

When your latex allergy is especially severe, it’s possible to experience anaphylaxis upon exposure. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that’s characterized by
difficult breathing, hives or swelling, nausea and vomiting, wheezing, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, loss of consciousness, confusion, and/or rapid or weak pulse. If you’re experiencing a severe allergic reaction, you should go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Latex Allergy Testing

The first step to overcoming a latex allergy is to receive a proper diagnosis from a specialist. Dr. Cajigal will help you identify exactly what you’re allergic to using your medical history and a combination of the allergy testing methods outlined below.

Skin Testing

Dr. Cajigal may suggest a skin-prick test, where small volumes of latex allergens (and controls) are placed on your skin and pricked with a sterile needle. After 20 minutes, the skin is re-examined for any bumps indicating an allergic reaction.

Blood Testing

A blood test can measure the amount of antibody circulating in the blood in reaction to latex. This confirmatory test is often used to rule out a suspected allergen if skin testing shows no response.
See a Latex Allergy Doctor

in St. Louis, Missouri

Girl using EpiPen to treat severe latex allergy reaction

Latex Allergy Treatment

There is no cure for latex allergy, but there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure to latex and effectively manage latex allergy reactions.

Avoiding Latex Allergies

The most important part of managing latex allergies is to avoid ingestion and other forms of exposure. These tips can help you avoid latex and keep reactions under control:

  • If you have trouble breathing when you are around latex, stay away from areas where powdered gloves are used and avoid all direct contact with latex.
  • Ask doctors, dentists, and other health care workers to use latex-free gloves and products. Note that most healthcare workers now use vinyl, nitrile gloves, or synthetic latex. Synthetic latex gloves do not contain natural latex, and therefore do not trigger latex allergy.
  • If you must wear gloves yourself, avoid latex.
  • Check labels to make sure products do not contain latex. Do not assume hypoallergenic products are latex free.
  • Latex condoms can cause serious latex allergic reactions. If either partner has a latex allergy, synthetic rubber condoms are the best choice.
  • Latex balloons have also been known to cause serious reactions in individuals with a latex allergy. Avoid direct contact, especially blowing up balloons. If you have trouble breathing when exposed to latex or powdered latex, you should be cautious when entering enclosed spaces containing rubber balloons, such as in parties or when used as decorations.

Of course, there are several other situations where latex exposure is possible. Visit us at St. Louis Family Allergy to get a personalized latex allergy treatment plan that accounts for the unique aspects of your daily life.

Latex Allergy Medications

Antihistamines can be effective in relieving mild latex allergy symptoms. Dr. Cajigal will likely prescribe epinephrine to keep with you in case you have a severe reaction to latex.

Emergency Action Plan for Latex Allergy

If your latex allergy is severe, we recommend informing your family, employer, school personnel and healthcare providers about your allergy. Carry an EPI-pen with you at all times, and teach others close to you how to use it in the event of an emergency. You may also choose to wear a bracelet that identifies your allergy and alerts others in the event of a severe reaction.

References

[1] American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: https://acaai.org/
[2] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: https://www.aafa.org/
More Specialties

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Visit Allergist Dr. Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy in St. Louis, Missouri

Latex Allergy Specialist
Dr. Sonia Cajigal

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St. Louis Family Allergy Google review score badge
"Dr. Cajigal was friendly, professional, and informative. She took the time to explain the tests and what was going on with my allergies. She is so knowledgeable and really cared about how I was feeling. I would highly recommend this practice if you suffer from allergies and asthma."

- Sue D, July 2020

“Dr Cajigal is a great listener. She trusts her patients instead of treating them as if they are not the experts of their own bodies. I really appreciate that (many doctors do not have that quality). She also immediately treats the symptoms instead of waiting to see if things clear. I use her for my children and myself. We have never left her office feeling as if it was a waste of time.”

– Stephanie, August 2020

"Great Allergist!"

- Ann H, December 2018

"She is the best."

- Stephen W, June 2020

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