(Continued from Part 1)
What’s the alternative?
Many products have been manufactured to avoid the use of latex. Lists are useful (see ‘latex list’ at The Latex Allergy Support Group) but may quickly become outdated as manufacturing processes change all the time. The best way to ascertain whether or not any item (medical or consumer) contains latex is to contact the manufacturer directly. It’s important to ask whether the item contains natural rubber latex, as synthetic rubbers (nitrile and neoprene - with physical properties closely resembling those of natural rubber) don’t contain the proteins that cause latex allergy and so are safe for those people who have latex allergy.
When it comes to contraceptives, latex allergy can be just another obstacle to safe sex. Latex-free condoms are available from Durex.
There are also female condoms, such as these by Pasante.
(Also see our article, Safe Sex for Allergic People - Ed.)
Feminine sanitary pads and tampons
Some may contain up to 15% latex. Latex-free alternatives include Always products, many Boots feminine hygiene products and all Kotex feminine care products.
Shoe soles, rubber trims and adhesives often contain latex.
Alternatives include artificial soles such as polyvinylchloride soles (PVC), polyurethane (PU), thermoplastic rubber (TR), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) soles. Clarks now produce an allergy list detailing safe styles.
Note that even footwear with synthetic soles (Clarks Walking Sandals, some Clarks children's shoes & Clarks Springer sandals) may use latex adhesive to glue in the sock or insole.
Scholl ‘Adele’ and ‘Rhodes’ designs are entirely latex-free. Most Nike trainers, but not walking shoes, are latex-free – but check before you buy. Nike Total 90 III football boots for Astroturf are latex-free.
Elastic in underwear may contain latex and can cause problems. Lycra®, Spandex and Elastane are synthetic polymers and do not themselves contain latex.
However, beware that latex is sometimes added to the finished product and composition labels in garments may exclude elastics and trimmings. ‘Stitch and Sew’ NRL-free polyester elastic (with a yellow lycra label: code 0122101) is made by Thomas Cork Ltd (0115 948 4271) and is stocked by Tesco, Sainsbury, Saver Centre and Somerfield.
It’s recommended to cover all other ordinary latex elastic with cotton cloth or tape.
Any amount of sports equipment contains latex.
PVC, butyl rubber, EVA foam, polyethylene, silicone, vinyl, neoprene or plastic are popular alternatives to polyurethane grips.
Very lightweight foam/ sponge products such as swim buoyancy aids are synthetic (usually polyethylene).
Gymnastic matting usually has a synthetic PU or polyethylene based chip foam interior, with PVC or vinyl covers, but beware of a latex base (try Continental Sports). Speedo makes a silicone swim cap and some of their goggles are latex free.
Football goalie gloves often contain latex, but Sondico’s International style (boys and youth sizes only) could be latex free.
Everyday items that may contain rubber latex
Many everyday items contain rubber latex. Likely categories include household goods, personal items, sports equipment, clothing, and medical or dental devices.
The severity of symptoms will differ widely from person to person according to the degree of sensitivity and the responsible allergen.
Patients need to be aware of the wide range of potential culprits, although the vast majority of sufferers, will not need (neither will most be able) to avoid all of them.
Food storage bags
Hot water bottles
UK Latex Allergy Support Group A voluntary charity which works with different organisations to promote safe use of latex, and assist individuals who have become latex allergic. Tel: 07734 176426
British Association of Dermatologists
Action Against Allergy
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