Does the smell of balloons give you a headache? Your body wash aggravate your eczema instead of soothing the skin? What if you rip off a band-aid – does the adhesive leave your skin red and itchy? You may have a latex allergy.

With 8 to 12% of health care workers in the US sensitive to latex, anyone in the health care industry has to ask themselves ‘how can I reduce my risk?’

In addition, people who have had many operations (especially in childhood) or who have food allergies are at a greater risk of developing a latex allergy.

Latex is found in many medical products, dental products, children’s toys, condoms, sanitary pads, bandages, baby-bottle nipples. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from headache, nausea, shortness of breath and anaphylactic shock. More commonly, symptoms include itchy, red, cracked skin or aggravation of current skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Besides contact with medical gloves, condoms are a common source of latex allergy. Polyurethane barriers protect from pregnancy and STIs. Polyurethane male condoms and Reality/female condoms are available. For other types of sex play, polyurethane dental dams are available along with vinyl/non-latex medical gloves.
Natural membrane condoms (often lamb) are fairly effective in preventing pregnancy, but not effective in protecting against STIs.
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What You Need to Know

Shea butter – the basis of many skin creams, lotions and body washes – is a close relative to the latex tree thereby causing skin irritation to those with a latex allergy.

Enjoy some sliced banana on your morning cereal? If you have a latex allergy, then your immune system is anything but happy with that fruit choice. Bananas, kiwi, passion fruit, strawberry pineapple, chestnuts, soy and avocado have also caused allergic reactions in people with underlying latex sensitivities.

What Should You Do?
If your allergy is severe, consider getting a medical-alert bracelet to notify emergency medical teams if you should be uncounscious in an emergency situation.

You can decrease the body’s allergic response intensity through the medical use of foods, nutraceuticals and supplements. A licensed naturopathic doctor such as Dr Andréa Proulx ND, can prescribe a treatment plan that helps you to balance your immune system response and decrease the severity of your allergic reaction.

Latex is found in a great number of common everyday items. Condoms are practical and used as a preferred method of birth control yet can cause extreme discomfort for those with a latex allergy. Avoidance of latex products is just the beginning. You can take control of how your body reacts to the world around you. It’s time to make a choice to live in harmony and without that immune aggravation.