Diagnosis is sometimes a challenge. Your doctor will examine your skin and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. Tell your doctor about your reactions to latex and if you've had any other allergy signs and symptoms. Your doctor will also ask questions to rule out other reasons for your symptoms.
A skin test can help determine if your skin reacts to the latex protein. The doctor will use a tiny needle to place a small amount of latex below the surface of the skin on your forearm or back. If you're allergic to latex, you develop a raised bump. Only an allergist or other doctor experienced in skin testing should perform this test.
Blood tests also may be done to check for latex sensitivity.
Although medications are available to reduce the symptoms of latex allergy, there is no cure. The only way to prevent a latex allergic reaction is to avoid products that contain latex.
Despite your best efforts to avoid latex, you may come into contact with it. If you've had a severe allergic reaction to latex, you may need to carry injectable epinephrine with you at all times. If you have an anaphylactic reaction, you will need to go to the emergency room for an immediate injection of adrenaline (epinephrine).
For less severe reactions, your doctor may prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids, which you can take after exposure to latex to control your reaction and help relieve discomfort.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in allergies (allergist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Keep notes about any exposure to latex, when it occurred and what type of reaction you had.
- Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications you're taking, including vitamins and supplements.
- Take a family member or friend, if possible. He or she may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions before your appointment will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For latex allergy, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What tests do I need?
- What's the best treatment?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- How can I avoid contact with latex?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions, as well.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Do you have allergies, such as hay fever or allergies to certain foods?
- Is there a history of allergies in your family?
- Have you been exposed to latex products?
- If you had symptoms after wearing latex gloves, how long did it take for the symptoms to develop?
- What surgeries have you had and when?
What you can do in the meantime
If you suspect you have a latex allergy, try to avoid contact with anything that contains latex.