PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid latex. Take these measures:
- Reduce your exposure. Limit the number of latex products with which you come into contact. Most latex products have suitable alternatives.
- Talk to your employer. Discuss reducing the number of latex products you might come in contact with at work. The Americans with Disabilities Act covers people with severe allergies to substances such as latex. If you are otherwise qualified for a job, but can no longer work with latex because of your allergy, work with your employer to determine other options and make reasonable accommodations.
- Inform your health care professionals. Be sure to tell your doctors, dentists and nurses about your allergy.
- Inform and educate your children's teachers, child care workers, camp personnel, baby sitters and anyone else who may be responsible for their care if your children are allergic to latex.
- Choose alternative gloves. If you must wear gloves at work, choose gloves made without latex. Vinyl or nitrile gloves work in many situations, but aren't as effective at protecting you from hepatitis or HIV transmission. Many other types of synthetic gloves work just as well as latex gloves for stopping disease transmission, but they can be more expensive.
- Carry nonlatex gloves. You'll have them available in case of a medical or dental emergency.
- Avoid inhaling latex. Stay away from areas of your workplace where other workers may be wearing latex gloves. Request that the people you work with use gloves that aren't powdered with cornstarch.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet. Always keep identification on you or with you that clearly alerts others of any allergies you have.
- Be wary of products labeled 'hypoallergenic.' This labeling doesn't mean these products don't contain latex. In this context, "hypoallergenic" usually indicates fewer chemicals were used in the latex production process.
- Ask for advice. Talk to your doctor about your latex allergy. He or she might be able to suggest other ways you can avoid latex in your daily life and reduce your chances of an allergic reaction. Your doctor might also suggest emergency medication to keep with you in case you have a severe reaction to latex.
- Use nonlatex condoms. If you're allergic to latex, consider using natural skin condoms, or use another type of birth control. Keep in mind that natural skin condoms don't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Synthetic rubber condoms offer some protection from STIs. Read the package label to see what the condom is made of and whether it's recommended for disease prevention.
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- Latex allergy: A prevention guide. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/98-113/pdfs/98-113.pdf. Accessed Sept. 20, 2011.
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