Many people are affected by latex and can have reactions to it in many different degrees of severity. There is no reason as to why some people suffer from a latex reaction more than others as no medical reason has been found, although research has found that people who use condoms as a method of contraception are more likely to get an allergy from latex.
What is Latex?
Latex is a synthetic material created to give a protective coating to prevent contamination. The most common uses for man-made latex products are that of latex gloves and condoms, used as a contraceptive method to prevent unwanted pregnancy or to reduce the risk of catching an STD. Latex is effective for protection because it is very thin but impressively durable which means that touch and movement can still be taken advantage of even when latex is acting like a protective layer, but it is durable enough to be a protective barrier.
Different Latex Allergies
There are three common types of latex allergies, and these are as follows:
- Irritant contact dermatitis
- Allergic contact dermatitis
- Immediate allergic reaction
All of these have different symptoms, and the consequence range from mild to life-threatening. To understand more about the most common types of latex allergy and how they can affect the vagina, let’s look into these variants closer.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
When it comes to latex allergies, this is the most common type of reaction and is not life-threatening if incurred. This is because it is not classed as an allergic reaction but is instead a reaction of the skin. It occurs most commonly when the skin is exposed frequently to latex. This can be the case when a woman is sexually active and uses condoms as her primary method of contraception. If this is the case and she suffers from this type of skin reaction of the vagina, then she will feel the following:
- Vaginal dryness;
- Burning or stinging;
- Itching in and around the vaginal area.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Often similar in its results as irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis is much more severe in its outcome. Though the symptoms of these two types of “allergy” are often compared, the reason for allergic contact dermatitis occurring is different. In this instance, a reaction occurs when the body has a reaction to the specific additives used within the production of latex itself. If a condom or sex toy made from latex is used by an allergic contact dermatitis sufferer, oddly the effects may not be felt for a few days after use which can often lead to confusion. When a reaction occurs. However, the difference between an allergic contact dermatitis reaction and an irritant contact dermatitis reaction are as follows:
- The severity is increased drastically;
- It is not only the vagina that may be impacted, but the results of the reaction can take their toll on other parts of the body, too. This can even occur on areas of the body that have not come in to direct contact with the latex itself;
- The reaction time is a lot more prolonged with the latter reaction type.
Immediate Allergic Reaction
This type of reaction is more commonly known as hypersensitivity to latex and is the most severe type of vagina latex allergy because it can be life-threatening when it occurs. It can induce anaphylactic shock in the sufferer, and hospital treatment is needed immediately when a sufferer has come in to contact with latex. There are lots of symptoms to look out for with this most severe type of latex allergic reaction, including the following:
- A runny nose;
- Pink eye;
- Severe itching and possible rash;
- Breathing difficulties.
Treating Latex Allergy Vagina
For the majority of latex allergies, especially those suffered by women who have used condoms or latex created sex toys, amongst many other latex products on the market commonly used today, treatment is quite simple. For most, either antihistamines or a corticosteroid is often enough to eradicate the symptoms. This does not mean that you can use latex products and just rely on medical treatment to continue, as if no latex allergy occurs at all, as often the more contact a latex allergy sufferer has, the more severe the reaction will become.
When the reaction is more severe, antihistamine and corticosteroids are not powerful enough to assist. In this case, hospitalization is required where commonly epinephrine and IV fluids are used to help the sufferer. For the most severe types of latex allergy sufferers, doctors recommend that epi-pens are always on your person should a life-threatening reaction occur where hospitalization would not be able to happen soon enough to assist the sufferer before the windpipe closed.
The Condom Conundrum
If you are a user of condoms but suspect that you have a reaction or allergy to latex, do not worry. If this is the best type of contraceptive method for you, then there is a natural alternative for you to consider which has been medically tested to ensure it is equally as effective protection against getting pregnant. Instead of using latex condoms, you could alternatively try using sheep cecum condoms which contain no latex at all as they are not synthetic.
Latex and Life
Interestingly, there are lots of items that we come in to contact with on a daily basis that perhaps we don’t know are made out of latex. Read through this list for the ones we found most surprising and see if avoiding them helps with the decrease in your reaction or allergy suffering on a long term basis:
- The grip on the handle of most toothbrushes is created from latex;
- Many sanitary pads contain latex;
- Multiple different art and office-based products contain latex, such as glue, stamps, rubber bands, pens with grippers on;
- Remote controls all have latex buttons, and this extends to many computers, cameras, and binoculars, too;
- Watch out for the checkout belt in the supermarket;
- If you require medical attention, be aware that many pieces of medical equipment contain latex too, including blood pressure sleeves, sticky bandages, and chest pads.