What does a latex skin allergy look like

What does a latex skin allergy look like

Contact dermatitis can be caused by:

  1. an irritant – a substance that directly damages the outer layer of skin
  2. an allergen – a substance that causes the immune system to reply in a way that affects the skin

Contact dermatitis is most commonly caused by irritants such as soaps and detergents, solvents or regular contact with water.

Read about causes of contact dermatitis

Preventing contact dermatitis

The best way to prevent contact dermatitis is to avoid contact with the allergens or irritants that cause your symptoms.

If you cannot avoid contact, you can take steps to reduce the risk of the allergens or irritants causing symptoms, including:

  1. changing products that irritate your skin – check the ingredients on make-up or soap to make certain it does not contain any irritants or allergens; in some cases, you may need to contact the manufacturer or check online to get this information
  2. using gloves to protect your hands – but take them off every now and again, as sweating can make any symptoms worse; you may discover it useful to wear cotton gloves underneath rubber gloves if the rubber also irritates you
  3. cleaning your skin – if you come into contact with an allergen or irritant, rinse the affected skin with warm water and an emollient as soon as possible
  4. applying emollients frequently and in large amounts – these hold your skin hydrated and assist protect it from allergens and irritants; you could also use emollient soap substitutes rather than regular bar or liquid soaps, which can dry out your skin

When to see a GP

See a GP if you own persistent, recurrent or severe symptoms of contact dermatitis.

They can attempt to identify the cause and propose appropriate treatments.

A GP may refer you to  a doctor who specialises in treating skin conditions (dermatologist) for further tests if:

  1. the substance causing your contact dermatitis cannot be identified
  2. your symptoms are not responding to treatment

Read about diagnosing contact dermatitis

Treating contact dermatitis

If you can successfully avoid the irritants or allergens that trigger your symptoms, your skin will eventually clear up.

However, as this is not always possible, you may also be advised to use:

  1. emollients – moisturisers applied to the skin to stop it becoming dry
  2. topical corticosteroids – steroid ointments and creams applied to the skin to relieve severe symptoms

If you own a severe episode of contact dermatitis and it covers a large area of your skin, a doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids, but this is rare.

Read about treating contact dermatitis

When to see a pharmacist

Speak to a pharmacist if your contact dermatitis is troubling you.

They can recommend treatments such as emollients (moisturisers), which you rub on your skin to stop it becoming dry.

Find a pharmacy

Symptoms of contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis causes the skin to become itchy, blistered, dry and cracked.

Lighter skin can become red, and darker skin can become dark brown, purple or grey.

What does a latex skin allergy glance like

This reaction generally occurs within a few hours or days of exposure to an irritant or allergen.

Symptoms can affect any part of the body but most commonly the hands and face.

Read about symptoms of contact dermatitis

Other types of eczema

Other types of eczema include:

  1. discoid eczema – circular or oval patches of eczema on the skin
  2. atopic eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) – the most common type of eczema; it often runs in families and is linked to other conditions, such as asthma and hay fever
  3. varicose eczema – this most often affects the lower legs; it’s caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins

Sheet final reviewed: 12 November 2019
Next review due: 12 November 2022

Latex allergy is a medical term encompassing a range of allergic reactions to the proteins present in natural rubber latex.[1] Latex allergy generally develops after repeated exposure to products containing natural rubber latex.

When latex-containing medical devices or supplies come in contact with mucous membranes, the membranes may absorb latex proteins. The immune system of some susceptible individuals produces antibodies that react immunologically with these antigenic proteins.[2] As numerous items contain or are made from natural rubber, including shoe soles, elastic bands, rubber gloves, condoms, baby-bottle nipples, and balloons, there are numerous possible routes of exposure that may trigger a reaction.

What does a latex skin allergy glance like

People with latex allergies may also own or develop allergic reactions to some fruits, such as bananas.[3]