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Latex Allergy Sufferers Forum General Topics >> Introduce Yourself >> New and confused

Message started by Smilesbetter on 14.01.13 at 00:45:02

Title: New and confused
Post by Smilesbetter on 14.01.13 at 00:45:02

Hey there everyone, I'm Erika. I just discovered I have a latex allergy towards the end of last year, and I have had no information at all about it other than what I've read about on this website. I was blood test negative and skin prick positive, and the doctor said I "might need some sort of kit to stop a reaction" but didn't explain what this kit would be or how I'd get it. Hopefully someone here can help!

I get very bad blisters when coming into contact with latex, as well as sore eyes and a headache. The sore eyes seems to be when I've rubbed my eyes after contact, although I was in an art shop recently which smelt strongly of paint and my eyes quickly went bright red and started watering. After a while I got a small headache and felt a little sick so I had to go outside. I don't know whether I have a type 4 or 1 allergy, and as the doctor hadn't heard of the allergy before I came in asking for a test, and has provided me with no information on each of my subsequent visits, I doubt she'll be able to help. Any ideas?

Anyway I keep accidentally coming into contact with latex - it feels like its in everything! I mainly live in Berlin too so most of the alternative products mentioned in the wonderful list on this website are not easily found there. I'll be starting to phone up companies to develop a German equivalent of that list, which I can submit here if anyone likes so that you can have latex free holidays there! On a similar note though, what do you all do when travelling by plane? I fly regularly with KLM and I'm not sure whether the air masks (for if the pressure drops) are latex free, and the staff sometimes use gloves (unsure whether latex free or not) when collecting food waste. Other than this, they may use latex in other areas too - I'm not very good at identifying latex containing products yet.

I have many questions to ask about the allergy, but I'm quite tired right now so I'll ask later. One that particularly worries me though - does anyone know if Aquila ukulele strings contain latex? Likewise for guitar, banjo and Saz strings. I also wonder about soft flexible plasticy plectrums for stringed instruments (such as that used on the Saz). I play these a lot and I can find out anywhere online about them. I think I can come to terms with this allergy, but if I can't play ukulele I'll be devastated.

Sorry for the long post, thanks for this wonderful website and all the information you all provide here, and thanks so much for letting me join! I don't know what I'd do without this website.


Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Bob on 14.01.13 at 09:05:42

Hi Erika and welcome to the forum.   It certainly sound as if you have a serious Type 4 but please be aware thar it could escalate to Type 1 if you constantly come into contact with latex.

I very much doubt if the strings and plectrums would contain latex.

The tests, especially the blood test can throw up false negatives.

When flying, inform the cabin crew that you are allergic to latex.   We have had good reports on cabin crews being very aware.

Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Smilesbetter on 28.01.13 at 13:38:57

Hi there, thanks for the fast reply!

I have another appointment with the doctor for when I return to the country, although it took a while to arrange as the receptionist didn't believe me when I said I had a latex allergy or that I needed to be seen first thing in the morning - she actually laughed. They so far have refused to help me get an appointment with a specialist but have given me no information on what I should do. I'm trying my best to stop coming into contact with latex but it seems as if it is contained in everything in my life.

I'm really worried about finding work with this allergy too. As a student I was intending on getting a part time job while I do an internship at the end of my course, but none of the employers seem to have any knowledge o the allergy or are particularly willing to learn, and they are so far unwilling to employ such a big risk factor. I feel I can still work in my planned future career but I can't afford to do an internship and live in Germany without also having a part time job at a supermarket or similar.

Has anyone on here had any similar experiences with finding part time unskilled work with the allergy?

I apologise for the down tones of this message, having just found out about the allergy fairly recently I'm still coming to terms with the fact that there is so much things I love which I can't do, and that doing anything now has become so difficult.

Thanks, Erika.

P.s. I phoned Apple today as I own some of their products, and they informed me that all their products are latex free. I asked about any glue used and he repeated that all Apple products are latex free. It was only after the call that it occurred to me that the cables (for charging etc) and the earphones might not be, do you have any knowledge about this? And are wires usually latex free (like computer wires, guitar plugs etc)?

Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Bob on 28.01.13 at 13:52:39

Hi Erica, Unfortunately doctors ans their staff not knowing anything about latex allergy is an all to common problem.   If I were you, I'd write a letter of complaint to the doctor and, if that fails, take it up with the General Medical Council.   You have every right to see a specialist.

It would be very unusual to find wiring covered with latex as, being a vegetable product, it rots.   70 years ago all electrical cable was covered in rubber insulation but, as it aged, it rotted, cracked and fell off.

Keep in touch and let us know how you get on with your doctor.

Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Smilesbetter on 28.01.13 at 19:37:14

Thank you, that's great to hear! And I will do. One final thing for now - I see on this website that book bindings contain latex. Is this all book bindings or just some, and is it a problem for normal reading or is it only a problem for repairing the binding?

Thank you so much for all you help and advice!

Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Smilesbetter on 04.02.13 at 17:27:08

Hello! So I had my doctors appointment today, you'll be happy to hear that after writing down notes of my reactions to latex and putting an alert on my account, he printed of a few pages of this website and gave it to me , saying "this is kosher information". Anyway he is going to write a letter to the local hospital to get me an appointment with a specialist in the next few months!  He also prescribed me two types of tablets, one to take if I have a mild reaction and one to take if I have a stronger one, to make the reaction go away over the course of a few days. He says the hospital will decide whether or not I should get an epipen.

I already knew he wouldn't have any new information for me, but at least he's arranging an appointment for me with a specialist, and I didn't expect to be given the tablets too.

As for the books, I have realised I can smell the glue off them and I got very sneezy and headachey in water stones this weekend so I guess that answers that for me, but luckily Amazon happened to do a one day discount on Kindles (it's still on!) and I got paid today so I've treated myself to that.

The main problem I've had really is finding clothes, I've started to email and phone lots of companies to source things but there's a lot I haven't found yet. I've managed to put together just one latex free outfit (other than dresses, which I are fine except I can't find latex free tights) and it includes a pair of men's trousers as all the ladies ones in the shops I'd usually go to seem to contain it and cause my legs to become painfully itchy. Ill keep looking though, and once I've finished university this year I'll start learning to use my sewing machine so I can make my own.



Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Bob on 05.02.13 at 09:32:59

Well that is good news Erica.   We will be most interested in the results of your hospital appointment.

We've never had any problems with book bindings but I have no idea regarding latex content.

Title: Re: New and confused
Post by LesleyM on 08.02.13 at 17:02:12


I have had reactions to Book Bindings and have negated the problem by buying a Kindle! I found that new books were a particular problem, but like most items the latex seems to "go off" after a while and no longer constitutes a problem.

Now that you have a diagnosis of Latex Allergy your Doctors surgery should be doing a Risk Assessment and managing the risk of a reaction by whatever means necessary. I have just had an epic fight with my GP over this and won.

You need to write to the practice manager and ask them to advise you what they are doing in this regard. If nothing you need to ask them to do so immediately. If you get nowhere you can contact the Primary Healthcare Trust, but you may be better off waiting until you have seen the Specialist to get their backing.

If you DO have a reaction at the GP surgery act immediately. Telephone to complain and then write asking that they immediately raise a Significant Event Analysis. Get some help from ICAS (Google them, they will act as an advocate for you in any meetings).

Good Luck!

Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Smilesbetter on 11.02.13 at 12:56:59

Hi there, thanks for the replies!

My hospital appointment is next month so I'll let you know how it goes. I've booked it for early in the morning but I'm quite worried about going into a hospital the size of this one. I've been into a small local hospital a lot recently as a family member was very unwell, and it seemed to get a little harder each time until the second last time the doctor came in and took off a latex glove in the room and I was later sick. The most recent time I went into the hospital I began to feel really dizzy and my stomach was extremely painful (which was strange, I thought that would only happen if I'd eaten something). I felt as though if I didn't sit down I'd collapse, and had to leave after only five minutes. I'd taken allergy tablets about half an hour before going each time, but the allergy seems to have gotten a bit worse each time.

As soon as going into hospital got worse, my glasses seemed to become painful to wear. I got the kind of pain you get when you have a bruise forming, but only where the glasses rested on my nose, under my eyes and at the start of my eyebrows. I had thought that the glasses were made of hard plastic with wooden legs, but having phoned up Specsavers today it seems I was wrong. Thankfully the girl is extremely helpful and is trying to find me a pair of glasses which don't have the same affect. She says that the plastic in glasses actually can contain a whole range of surprising things.

Thanks for the information about the books! I have fallen in love with the kindle, but I have many older books that aren't yet on it so I'm delighted to hear that I might still be okay with them.

I will also definitely contact my local GP about it. I'm actually in the process of moving to Berlin so I will have to do the same there. It's been hard coming to terms with this allergy but I'm doing my best. I expect the first year will be the most difficult as I'm just learning about everything and hearing about all the things I love but can't do. I'm being as positive as possible though! I've discovered a whole range of chocolates and things which I can eat fine and although every pair of girls trousers I own cause some sort of reaction, I've discovered (embarrassingly) that I can pull off men trousers pretty well haha!

Thanks for all the advice again!


Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Jen on 18.02.13 at 18:48:35

Hi Erika

Glad you have found this forum.  There are a lot of very experienced people here.

I'm pleased you are going to a hospital appointment.  It is worth ringing up in advance to ensure they are able to keep you safe.  If you are going to see an Immunologist/Allergy Doctor they should have a latex safe clinic for you, but it doesn't always happen.  It the Trust where I work we use latex free gloves in all clinical areas, but do have a problem with elastic bands around medical notes, and some of the manual blood pressure machines have latex tubing.  

Clothing has been more difficult in recent times.  For trousers I go for ones that need belts as they are less likely to have elastic waistbands, but look before you buy.  Some companies that made latex free clothing a few years ago are now using latex again for economic reasons.  I need to get some new undies but am trying to put this off as I know it won't be so easy at the moment!

I hope your appointment goes well for you.

Take Care


Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Smilesbetter on 21.02.13 at 22:30:59

Hello Jen,

My appointment with the specialist is on the 4th floor of a huge (compared to all the other ones I've been in) hospital in Scotland. I got as early an appointment as possible, but it is still around eleven o'clock (I can't remember the exact details, haha). On the positive side, I recently came across an article on the BBC website which, although from a few years ago, mentioned a LASG member and allergy specialist who was based at the hospital I'm going to! They aren't the specialist I'll be seeing, but it's made me a lot more positive about the appointment at least. I can't wait till its over and done with as I've become a bit paranoid about everything in my life containing latex.

I had a blood test which says I'm not allergic to the food associated with latex allergies (thank goodness!!), which has been a huge relief as some of those foods have become some of the only things I am confident eating. I've become so worried about packaging possibly containing latex that I hardly eat anything now. I know it's a bit of an over reaction, but I'm terrified of the allergy becoming any worse than it already is, and most companies don't even reply to my questions. At least I know I'm safe with eggs, haha!

As for underwear, if you're in the UK you should try M&S. they have underwear that's actually labelled "Latex Free Elastic" although there's not a huge selection. They also only have this type of labelling on their knickers as far as i can see. One wonderful staff member actually called head office for me to find out if they had any latex free tights (I'm quite desperate) but she phoned later to say they did not. My mother emailed them to ask about their other clothes, socks etc and they quickly replied to say that they have a latex free policy on all their children's wear. When my mum replied to say that I was actually 23 (haha) and whether they had the same policy for the rest of their clothing they did not reply.

I've also found latex free socks, although I can't remember the brand name and am in the wrong country to check. I'll ask my mum to send me the name so I can post it on here. The socks aren't the most beautiful socks I've ever seen, and have no elastic whatsoever so they don't always stay up, but they're comfortable and I know I won't have super itchy feet when I wear them which is nice.

Chino style trousers are sometimes latex free I've found, I even found a female pair although mostly I've had to buy male trousers (Thankfully they actually look very feminine on me, as far as trousers can). I've managed to find a few tops and dresses that are latex free, although I'll probably need a good spray tan before I can brave the dresses. I was really upset about clothes at first and I admit its still really heartbreaking to walk into a shop full of pretty clothes I can never wear, but I've managed to get a few latex free outfits minus the shoes and bra which have been an absolute nightmare.

Anyway thanks for replying. I'm so glad this forum exists and is active, it's helped me to see that although this is a truly horrible allergy, there's plenty of people with it who still live their lives and have found plenty of latex free alternatives. It's really helping me to come to terms with things.

P.s. I have to commend the girl at my local Specsavers. Not only did she phone up my contact lens companies to check they were 100% latex free, she also contacted various glasses companies about the contents of the plastic used (its quite surprising actually) and identified the chemical within that most likely contains the latex. She also got me to select a few pairs of glasses I liked in the store and is contacting all of those companies on my behalf to find out whether they contain latex or have come into contact with it. Further to this, she even made sure that even though it was such unusual circumstances and that I hadn't discovered the allergy when I bought my (relatively new) glasses, the pair that I like best that is found to have no latex will be given to me free of charge. I can't thank her enough!!

Title: Re: New and confused
Post by Jen on 24.02.13 at 13:59:06

I used to go to Marks and Sparks for my undies, glad I can still get something there!


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