August 12, 2009

Latex Allergy Awareness

My daughter has a severe latex allergy. I am posting this blog today because for the 4th time this summer, she was unable to eat at an event due to the food being handled with latex gloves. She completed two separate 5Ks and couldn't eat at the buffet after, she couldn't eat at a clubhouse barbeque party, and today couldn't eat the sandwiches at her band luncheon. That is just this summer.

Her allergy causes her to swell horribly, like a beesting sort of reaction. We prefer not to have that happen to her throat after she ate something handled with latex. She gets hives when she wears clothing with certain kinds of elastic, she spent an evening after Trick or Treating not eating candy but popping Benedryl. Someone had handed out candy with gloves on.

She went to a Red Cross babysitting class and her station had a pair of latex gloves. Even though they removed the gloves after she told them of her allergy, the powder still was in the area. Her eyes swelled shut when she touched them after handling the practice doll.

She has to avoid balloon parties and be careful what sort of bandages she uses on a cut. She had a visitor to the school bring balloons in a secret grab bag for the kids, it resulted in an afternoon in the nurse's office, just from touching it.

I am not trying to be a drama queen, but rather bring a level of awareness to my readers and hopefully pass this post along. Allergies like this are often progressive so we do what we can to avoid contact, but it seems to be everywhere. Many many common items contain latex and most people think it's just an itchy reaction. For my daughter and many others, it is much more serious.

In short, very few people are aware of this allergy and often times, think they are being germ conscious, when in fact they could trigger a life threatening (thank goodness not yet, her breathing has never been affected) allergy.



  1. oh gawd that is so nasty. can't they expose her gradually and get her over it? I'm sure they're are doing what they can. i feel bad for kids with allergies that impact them as this seems to do. ;-(.
    btw i see u lurker!

  2. Hi, Michael! yes, you know I lurk... I was actually showing someone my "not from around here" piece. :)

    The problem with these sort of allergies is that they can be progressive. In other words, the reaction is worse with each exposure, and we've certainly seen it to be true. For us, it is controlled with antihistamine pills, but the schools have a policy that a student cannot keep any sort of drugs in their possession. What has happened is that by the time the paperwork and proper channels are alerted, the reaction has already begun.

    I just figure that by posting this (and I'm actually sending it to our town paper), that with a little awareness, there is some more sensitivity. Yesterday, the person serving rolled her eyes at my daughter and said "oh you're one of those allergy people", as if she could control her reaction.

    I'm a mom with a mission, watch out!

  3. OMG! An allergy to latex? I can't imagine how that must be. As I'm reading this post, I'm cataloging in my mind all the things that have latex in them and the everyday situations where latex is involved. Why, just in clothing alone, I wouldn't be wearing my socks, underwear or baseball cap.

    How old was she when she had her first reaction and how long did it take to isolate the cause?

  4. Hi, Ray, LTNS! Actually, we discovered it during her first round of orthodontic work. We thought the somewhat rough orthodontist had actually given her a fat lip when yanking out some mouth appliance. As the day went on, the swelling wasn't going down. She had the whole Bubba Gump thing going on.

    Our backdoor neighbor was a dentist and we asked if he would be kind enough to take a look. He put on his gloves and poked around... literally, within 2 minutes, we could see a red, handprint shaped swelling on the side of her face where he was holding her still.

    That would be when we knew.

  5. Hi Kim,

    I found your blog posting because I was researching conversations on latex allergy. Sorry to read about your daughter’s allergy; it sounds like she has the very serious kind that causes asthma-like symptoms. You’re right, latex allergies are a serious problem and develop over time through repeated exposure to latex, which is found in thousands of products. In addition to the latex products you mentioned, there are many more, including condoms, catheters, foam mattresses and pillows, rubber masks (e.g. Halloween and scuba masks), flip-flops, rubber grips on baseball bats and bicycles, carpet backing, gym mats, certain toys, etc.

    The American Latex Allergy Association offers a lot of great information and resources. As you noted, rubber gloves are a common latex product and can cause a lot of problems for allergy sufferers. I work with a company called Vystar that has a new glove coming soon made with Vytex NRL, an ultra-low protein latex material that significantly reduces the antigenic proteins that can cause latex allergy.

    Good luck with raising awareness about latex allergy in your community. National Latex Allergy Awareness Week is the first week of October; perhaps calling attention to this observance can help with your efforts.

  6. Ada, welcome and thank you for your contribution.

    We've been very lucky so far that her reactions are more or less only cosmetic, but we are also vigilant. I used to make her wear a bracelet, but fashion won that battle and she just remains ultra aware. Wearing a bracelet will not prevent others from handling food with latex gloves, for example.

    Thank you for pointing me to the October week, I plan to be an active participant, now.

  7. nice read. I would love to follow you on twitter.

  8. Anon, Please do, and I probably should post my twitter feed here, but look for FreshGreenKim, and thank you :)


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