Symptoms of an allergic reaction to latex adhesive may include a skin rash, hives, itching, and irritated, watery eyes. If you've ever worn a latex bandage and removed it only to find a red, irritated outline of the bandage, you may have an allergy to latex. Latex adhesives are not only found in bandages, they have many other uses as well, all including contact with your skin. Some make-up artists use latex adhesives to help attach bald caps, hair pieces, or other face masks they might be applying. Even clowns use them to attach their red noses.
Identify what type of reaction you are having. It could be irritant contact dermatitis. This is the least dangerous type of reaction. It is known as a nonallergic skin reaction. Symptoms are dryness, itching, burning, scaling and wounds on the skin.
Another type of latex reaction is called allergic contact dermatitis. This type of reaction does not usually occur immediately. It can show up long after the latex exposure. This reaction is due to the additives in the latex process. The reaction is similar to irritant contact dermatitis but can be much more serious. The rash can spread to other parts of the body and might linger for a longer period of time.
The third type of reaction is called immediate allergic reaction, also known as latex hypersensitivity. This is the most severe form of latex allergy. It may even begin with symptoms similar to hay fever, conjunctivitis, cramps, hives, or severe itching. It is very uncommon that symptoms advance to the next level, which can include chest pains, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing, anaphylactic shock, loss of consciousness, or even death.
Seek medical attention if you or someone you know is having symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.
Remove the latex bandage or other object attached with latex such as a plastic clown nose, and stop using any latex products until you have been tested for an official latex allergy. A dermatologist or allergist can help determine the allergy with a skin test or a blood test.
Use a hydrocortisone cream to help with any burning or itching you may be experiencing. It won't make the rash go away, but it will give you some relief. You could also try an antihistamine, such as benadryl, to help with mild symptoms.
Prevent further allergic reactions by being proactive. A latex allergy could get worse each time you come into contact with latex. It would be wise to stay away from products made of latex. When you visit the dentist or any doctor's office, let the office staff know before your appointment so they can take extra precautions. Hospitals and doctor offices are aware of this allergy and should have a plan in place for patients like you.
If you are allergic to latex, you need to wear a medical ID bracelet with allergies listed. You might also want to carry an emergency epinephrine syringe or EpiPen with you at all times. As with any severe reaction, call your doctor or 911 right away, or visit the emergency room for assistance.