Latex allergy in its most common form often creates irritant contact dermatitis. This is often seen in association with wearing rubber gloves, and can create eczema symptoms; itching, redness and scaling.
Symptoms of a latex allergy
Latex allergy can cause symptoms from both contact, and inhalation of the rubber powder that can be present on latex products. Symptoms include:
- Severe itching, urticarial and nettle rash
- Dizziness/light headedness
- Respiratory problems if inhaled
Some more serious symptoms may also develop, and although incredibly rare, some deaths have been recorded from latex allergy.
Allergy testing for a latex allergy
Specific IgE blood tests (previously known as RAST tests) or skin prick tests are used to confirm or exclude the presence of IgE antibodies in the blood or skin and can be used to diagnose immediate (IgE) mediated allergy. This form of allergy testing is not useful in diagnosing for irritant or allergic contact dermatitis. Patch testing is used to confirm or exclude contact allergic dermatitis.
You may be referred to a skin specialist (dermatologist) for patch testing or a doctor specialising in allergy (allergist/immunologist) for skin prick or blood specific IgE testing, depending on the nature of your symptoms.
If you have a latex allergy or contact allergy it is important that you communicate your allergy when you visit healthcare professionals.
Anyone can become allergic to bee stings, wasp stings, or other insect bites but those most likely to become bee allergic are bee keepers. Those who work in gardens are also more susceptible to having a reaction to insect bites. However, it is unusual to be allergic to both wasps and bees.
Symptoms of a venom allergy
Localised reactions: Swelling at the site of the insect bite, which can be more than 10 cm in diameter and last for more than 24 hours. The rest of the limb may be involved but no generalised symptoms are present. These reactions are more common in children than in adults.
Mild systemic reactions: These reactions are characterised by skin swelling and hives in an area of skin remote from the insect bite. Children experiencing these reactions are not thought to be significantly at risk of future life-threatening reactions compared to others. However, in older children and adults, such reactions are considered to be a risk factor for a future severe reaction.
Moderate / severe systemic reactions (anaphylaxis): Any or all of the following symptoms may be present:
- Swelling of throat and mouth
- Difficulty in swallowing or speaking
- Difficulty in breathing – due to severe asthma or throat swelling
- Hives anywhere on the body, especially large hives
- Generalised flushing of the skin
- Abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting
- Sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)
- Collapse and unconsciousness
Anaphylaxis is a life threatening severe allergic reaction. It is a medical emergency, and requires immediate treatment. Visit our page on anaphylaxis to find out more.
Wasp and bee stings can occasionally cause serious life-threatening allergic reactions so it is important to know the symptoms to look out for and what to do.
Reactions to alcohol
It is not unusual to experience allergy-like symptoms following ingestion of alcohol. The reaction can be very specific, for example to a certain type of wine, or can be caused by different types of alcohol.
More commonly, symptoms of alcohol allergy are caused by an intolerance to alcohol, to the food on which the drink is based (e.g. grapes for wine, grains for whisky etc.), or to another substance in the drink.
Histamines and yeasts in alcohol
This is present in many alcoholic drinks, particularly red wines, and can cause headache, flushing, nasal symptoms, gut symptoms or asthma. Some people are particularly intolerant of histamine because of a deficiency in the breakdown and elimination of histamine from the body.
You can find further information on Histamine Intolerance on our Allergy vs Intolerance section.
Yeasts are a possible cause of a true allergic reaction to alcoholic drinks. However, studies show that there are only low levels of yeast allergens present in alcoholic drinks.
For more information on diagnosis and management of an allergy to alcohol please see our Factsheet below.
True allergy to alcohol is very rare but yeasts are the most probable cause of a reaction to alcohol.
Nickel allergy (a type of metal allergy) commonly develops following ear piercing and the use of metal jewellery. Nickel allergy is more common in people with hand dermatitis although the reason for this is not always clear.
Orthopaedic pins and plates may result in eczema affecting the overlying skin. The role of nickel in joint replacements is unclear, although typically if there is concern, a titanium prosthesis can be used.
European Union legislation currently limits the amount of nickel released from metals in prolonged contact with the skin and it is hoped that nickel allergy may become less common in the future.
Pure gold (18 carat or more), solid silver and platinum are usually safe alternatives for jewellery.