One Woman’s Incredible Story of a Chronic Allergic Reaction to Latex

A Latex Allergy Story_mini

Last week, we received a truly incredible story from Renee, a long-time sufferer of eczema with a chronic allergic reaction to latex. She thought she had been avoiding latex for years, but discovered she’d unknowingly been exposing her body to latex in two hidden ways. Her story is quite shocking! See for yourself.

“I’m 60 years old.  When I worked in an OB/GYN lab in my 20s, there were no nitrile gloves, only rubber.  I became allergic to latex and so learned to stay away from rubber products, even supposedly latex-free elastics, and bromeliads (cross reactive with latex).  In my early 40s I began to have joint pain and skin rashes.  The joint pain was so bad. There were nights where I had to stop on the way to the restroom and just breathe, to try to let the pain ease a bit, before continuing on.  Eventually, my breathing became an issue as well and I was diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease and exercise-induced asthma.  The joint pains were never definitively diagnosed and I went on the usual merry-go-round of diagnoses, e.g. lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.  But then suddenly, in my early 50s, the problems disappeared.  The joint pain left, the breathing was no longer a problem, and my skin improved.  I didn’t understand why, but I was so grateful.

Latex Allergy4

In my late 50s, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. 2016 was full of stress and sadness. My skin problems returned with a vengeance and I found I could not eat many foods that were rich in hevein and its cousins.  Hevein is the protein responsible for latex allergy.  If I ate coconut, palm oil, nuts, etc, the eczema patches flared and oozed.  The itching was non-stop, in spite of a daily regimen of antihistamines.  It was torture.  Everyone said “Stress!” and I thought it was as well, until the symptoms got even worse after my husband passed.  I was only able to eat 17 things and realized I had graduated to a full latex food allergy.  Any other food made my eczema and itching flare.  There were patches of infected skin all over my body.

A few weeks after the funeral, I had a molar pulled.  The oral surgeon showed it to me, saying yes, there had been a hairline fracture just like a previous molar he had pulled when I was in my 50s.  The tooth that he showed me had pink stuff in the root canals and I asked what it was.  He said, “Oh, it’s a resin from a tree called gutta percha.  It’s used to fill in the empty canals after the tooth’s roots are removed in a root canal job.”  I looked at that gummy resin and asked if it might be related to the rubber tree?  The oral surgeon suddenly looked really shaken and went to his computer.  Sure enough, gutta percha is related to the rubber tree.  I was being poisoned by my own tooth?  Incredible.

So looking back, my first autoimmunity started after my first root canal and resolved after the tooth was pulled, and now my second bout of autoimmunity started after the second root canal and would resolve just as quickly?  Sure enough, by that evening my inflamed skin and itching were about 1/2 of what they had been.  But even so, my eczema did not fully resolve and I was not able to add any foods back.  I thought okay there must be something else inside of me that is overstimulating my immune system.  The more I thought about it, the more I suspected a trans-urethral mesh, the “Sparc sling” that had been put in during my hysterectomy in 2004.  It’s the one you see on late-night TV, with lawyers asking if you’d like to join a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturers.  I had also suffered some of the symptoms they said on TV but it was the suspected autoimmunity that bothered me the most.

So on October 9th of this year, during abdominal surgery, the surgeon removed the mesh.  She was able to get it out totally, fortunately.  The rest of my skin began to clear on the operating table – seriously. The head OR nurse had been watching the eczema patches on my arm and chest because of the fear of my reactivity to their tapes, adhesives, etc.  Those things, especially the “inert ingredients” are all partially sourced from coconut and palm oils, and they were concerned of anaphylaxis.  Since I had told them that the patches would flare bright red if I were reacting to something, they were using those patches as their ‘canary in the mine shaft’.  After they wheeled me into PACU and I came out of anesthesia, the head nurse said, “Mrs. McMurray, look at your arm!”  It was totally clear.

Latex Allergy

The next day, a hospital official came to my room and asked to see the arm and my chest.  Both were totally clear.  Then the surgeon sent her Nurse Practitioner the day after that – it was still clear.  Everyone said the same thing – that in all of their years of working on patients, they had never seen an allergic reaction, especially something as tenacious as eczema, clear so quickly.

I am home now, three weeks later, and am a little bit red.  No eczema, but just a tinge of redness and a small amount of itching.  This is due to the corset I must wear.  Try as I might, I can’t stop the elastic bits from touching my skin.  But let’s put this in perspective – when that mesh and gutta percha were in my body, elastic sent me into absolute misery.  My skin would become red and weepy.  The sores itched like crazy, usually for 24 hours per day.  At night I’d wake up in respiratory distress because the swelling would reach my neck.  I slept with a rescue kit.  A little bit of redness and mild itching is nothing.  I am so, so happy.  I have to wear this corset for two more weeks and then I can take it off for good.  Then, after a few months, maybe I will start to experiment with slowly adding foods back.

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I feel like I have a future now.  Frankly, when I was in the middle of the misery, I could not see me lasting 30 more years like that.  I did not want to live with that misery. Life is good. There is hope.”

Today, Renee’s skin is clear and healthy. She’s working every day to introduce foods back into her diet, but still experiences hives here and there from negative reactions. Although a nuisance, as she states, they are in no way as intolerable as her chronic eczema was. She also does not need to take as many antihistamines as she used to. By sharing her story, Renee hopes that she can help someone else suffering from a latex allergy.

 

For ideas to soothe your skin, start here for eczema relief!

 

Do you suffer from eczema as an allergic reaction to latex? We want to hear from you in the comments below!

23 Comments

  1. Sally Mae Wright on December 5, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    What an ordeal for you! Thanks so much for sharing with all of us.

  2. Caroline on December 7, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I’m 75 and even though my Japanese reindeer said I had ‘that cheap white skin’ I had actually never had exzema but last March 2017. My legs an back got it really bad and suddenly. It is December and after being treated by dema doctor I still have most of it.

  3. Renee on December 10, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    You’re welcome, Sally Mae. I hope anyone with a latex-food allergy will find out what works to alleviate their skin problems. And Caroline, good luck to you!

  4. Carole Rains on December 11, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Astounding. So happy for you that there is even more relief in store for you.

  5. Janice on December 12, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy you are better!
    I know the feeling when you discover a long hidden cause of eczema.
    I learned about root canals and gutta Perga before I had a root canal and they used a different material. I later had the tooth removed.
    I have since learned to never have a root canal as they often fail and can be bad for us with allergies.
    I had head to toe eczema twice in my life. Once as an infant and once at age 18.
    The infancy eczema mysteriously and thankfully cleared totally after we moved. For the next 16 years we never knew what had caused it!
    Then at age 18 my family got a dog and within 6 months I had head to toe eczema again!
    Ended up in the ER with difficulty breathing. Saw an excellent Dr who immediately said get rid of the dog.
    I cleared once the dog was gone.

    And then we put 2and 2 together,
    The infancy eczema was also caused by a dog!
    We moved from a 2 family house with a dog living there!

    I tell this so others who are suffering might know there is usually a cause for eczema, though it may be difficult to find.
    Blessings to all .
    Ps. I struggle daily, as I cannot use any soap.

    • Renee on December 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      Janice,

      My wonderful dog had to go as well. When she left, the eczema lessened a bit so I knew dog dander was at least partly to blame. The gutta percha was about 80% of the problem and the rest was the mesh. Like you, I will never get another root canal in my life. And believe it or not, there was actually a research abstract published, saying people with latex allergies won’t have any trouble with gutta percha. Good grief! I am guessing that if my teeth had not cracked and the gutta percha been released into my mouth, my latex allergy would never have progressed to a latex-food allergy. Next I’m getting a Melisa test to see if I’m allergic to any component of my amalgam fillings. I still have to have that pulled tooth replaced and must also choose between a porcelain and titanium implant.

      You didn’t say whether or not you are allergic to latex, and especially have a latex-food allergy, but if you can’t use soaps, I am guessing that maybe you do. Almost all soaps are sourced from coconut and red palm, which are very allergenic to us. Some common allergens for us are coconut/palm, nuts, pineapple, and nightshades like tomatoes, eggplant, etc. There are a lot more. We also tend to have a problem with formaldehydes like in perfumes and the sizing new clothes have; also with the -isothiazolinones of hand sanitizers. You might be unable to eat or touch some of these things, but are ok with others. It’s really hard to diagnose a latex-food allergy and most allergists are unfamiliar with it. Mostly you have to just get the list of no-no foods and do some testing on your own.

      Here are the soaps I can use: for bathing – Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap (https://www.kissmyface.com/product/pure-olive-bar-soap/) and for my clothes and hand soap dispensers – Natural Liquid Laundry & Cloth Diaper Detergent (http://www.allensnaturally.com/natural-liquid-laundry-cloth-diaper-detergent-1-gallon/). Neither contains any latexy anything. Also, for shampoo, I use Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex Renewal Shampoo, which I can buy at WalMart. I’m not sure why I can use their shea shampoo since it contains the protein that we are allergic to, but I’m not complaining!

      Best of luck to you!

      • Janice on July 17, 2018 at 9:28 pm

        Hello, Renee!
        I just got back on the site and saw your response! Yes! I am Latex sensitive having experienced anaphylaxis from it during my nursing training, back when latex was used extensively in hospitals.
        A thing that has helped me greatly was having my DNA done and then using the raw data to gather my detailed health profile. This helped me avoid foods, drugs, materials which are shown would cause problems for me.
        For allergic people this can be life saving.
        Your story is a real inspiration!
        Thanks so much for sharing it and I’m really so glad you are better!
        Best in everything,
        Janice

      • Janice on July 17, 2018 at 9:36 pm

        Oh please no implants!!!!!!

        • Renee on August 4, 2018 at 2:17 am

          Yeah, tell me about it. The more I read up on implants, the less I’m inclined to do it. But what is the alternative? Even bridges have metal. Not sure what the answer is!

  6. Leslie on January 16, 2018 at 3:29 am

    Renee,
    Thank you for your story. When I viewed the photos of your bad rash it was like looking at photos of myself–I had an identical rash from latex! My mother also had latex allergies. I have had a root canal so will have to look into that further. I have used Kiss My Face olive oil soap with success. I also use a very simple, unscented lye soap that I bought from a woman on eBay. For a facial moisturizer I use Egyptian Magic. I buy clothes from Wintersilks.com and Normthompson.com–always 100% cotton, 100% silk or a cotton silk blend for me. There aren’t a ton of attractive clothes on these websites so when I find a piece that I like I buy multiples. I take two 24 hour Allegra every day as well as 200MG of Plaquenil. If not for that, I would always have a rash/hives. When it was at its worst I had to get steroid injections and infusions. Why did they think you had lupus? I was put on Plaquenil because I was positive for antiphospholipid antibodies and ANAs, however; my rheumatologist said that she did this as a preventative measure. Lastly, I started wearing 100% cotton medical scrubs with a cotton drawstring waist to lounge around in at home. What a comfort to know that I am not the only person that had suffered with such rashes. Thank you again for sharing your story. I would very much like to correspond with you. You can find me on LinkedIn.com. My last name is Gantner and my profile is “beekeeper”. I would love to hear from you to further compare notes. Thank you.

    • Renee on March 3, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Leslie,

      Thanks for the product recommendations! I was on nine doses of antihistamines/day, a cocktail of three different meds. In addition, I tried two different injection meds, one of which was Dupilumab. I can’t recall the other one. Their side effects only made me more miserable.

      I’m on nothing now and I’m up to 36 foods. :->

      I was treated for lupus for awhile because so many of my symptoms made it seem like that was what I had. Ditto for the other autoimmune issues. This is going back about 20 years, now, when they were usually just diagnosed via symptoms. The only one that I can recall that actually could be tested with blood markers was RA, but even though I was negative, my rheumatologist treated me for that for a time because the meds actually helped. Until they didn’t. Many things helped for a time, then either the misery returned or the meds’ side effects were intolerable. What a mess.

      There is a book I want to recommend: The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. Up until a neighbor recommended it to me, I thought I was an anomaly. Now I know I’m not and that eczema and other autoimmune diseases can be tackled at the source. I encourage you to read it. It was as if this man wrote the book about ME. If you are like me, then you will be amazed at what he has to say.

      Once I retired, I let go of my LinkedIn account but will ask a pal to look you up. Interestingly, he and his wife are beekeepers too. I’ll be in touch.

  7. Sue on February 8, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Does the sling have latex in it or are you allergic to the polypropylene in the sling? Your story was so interesting to me because I also have a severe latex allergy(used to be a nurse) and am now having a quandary because I have been told I need two root canals and have been disturbed at how cavalier my endodontist was when I told him I had heard there could be a problem using gutta percha. I have also seen that abstract and now it seems because of ONE doctor all of a sudden we can have gutta percha???? I am extremely frightened at the prospect of trying gutta percha and getting myself into big trouble. These dentists seem to think I am being overreactive and paranoid but I have found over the years you have to be because mistakes are made all the time and I am the one who suffers. (i.e. The surgical resident who wore latex gloves and took them off in the hall and did not wash his hands and proceeded to examine my surgical incision whereupon I proceeded to break out in blisters all around the incision from the latex he transferred to my skin). Many times I feel that latex allergy is scoffed at or not taken seriously. I have had reactions from eating food that someone made while wearing latex gloves. People have died from reactions to latex. I get so sick trying to explain this especially to medical people who you would think would know better.

    • Renee on March 4, 2018 at 2:26 am

      Oh Sue, I’m so sorry to have taken so long to read this. STAND FIRM. It is So Not Worth letting them make you feel like you are being whiny. They simply don’t know any more than what they have read and experienced with other patients, i.e. those poor souls who have never made the connection between their latex allergy, gutta percha, and their eczema. I could wallpaper my walls with abstracts from PubMed saying that there is no cross-reactivity between gutta percha and natural rubber latex or that it’s only a problem if gutta balata is used. But I’ve got years of angry, itchy, scabby skin, plus two episodes of collapsed lungs to say otherwise. Right next to those abstracts I’d plaster my doctor copays and receipts for antihistamines and expensive, big pharma drugs that messed with my liver and eyes.

      Here are two thoughts I have about those analyses that were used to prove it’s ok to have gutta percha in your mouth if you are allergic to latex:

      1. We are not talking about a little ‘ol issue of touching a rubber glove and getting a little ‘ol rash. We are way past that. In my case, I was so sensitized to that lectin, hevein, I was not able to tolerate it even in small amounts in foods and my immune system went on to attack even hevein-like lectins, structurally-similar chintinases found naturally in just about every plant on the planet. Did they take that into account? Did they design protocols that tested the cross-reactivity of such a range of allergens?

      2. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. I had the tooth removed in the afternoon and by that evening, my itching and redness was about 1/2 gone. A week later, it was 90% gone. And I realized that my miraculous healing from the first go-round of autoimmunity probably occurred after that first root canal. Just to be absolutely sure that it was the gutta percha making me miserable, my oral surgeon asked my allergist to give me a patch test of it. I went to my dentist, got the same threads of gutta percha he used in my root canals, and my allergist applied them to my back. I didn’t even make it to 24 hours. The next morning I drove to her office and demanded they come off. She looked at my back and said, “Well, I’d say THAT’S a positive!” I was back into a full break out with just four tiny threads. So if a doctor were to tell me that gutta percha isn’t responsible for my autoimmune nightmare…well, it would be hard for me to remain civil.

      About the polypropylene mesh, the answer is a solid I’m-not-sure. When I could not clear out that last spot of eczema on my arm, I could not get the mesh out of my mind. I was having some of the painful issues mentioned on the commercials and I thought, well, could there be some binder or whatever in that mesh? I looked it up on line but very few women had reported skin problems. The fact that my last patch cleared when the surgeon took it out was a happy ending to a guess. I actually asked the surgeons (I had two for this surgery, unrelated to the eczema) if I could patch test their sutures and they agreed. I brought my own McKesson tape to the hospital, my own gowns, my own food, and my own sheets. They really worked to help me through this – kudos to Methodist Hospital of Katy, TX!

    • Janice on July 17, 2018 at 9:45 pm

      Hi Sue,
      I have had my back teeth pulled ( you can see them) when they needed root canals. Will never
      Have one again.
      I know I’m sensitive to any metals, so no implants.
      I always say if it comes to that I’d be better off pulling them all and having false teeth.
      Since I’m 70, it’s not a problem.
      My teeth are pretty good for now, but. Did get the back ones pulled and happy I did!
      The dentists all said oh no, don’t pull them your mouth will get messed up!
      No, it’s just fine. I have nice straight teeth and they’ve stayed that way.
      Just a note of encouragement for going against the dental establishment and their recommendations.
      Best to you,
      Janice

  8. Helen on March 22, 2018 at 4:40 am

    Glad you got sorted, I had a problem with latex and the dentist too on the past.
    Kind regards
    Helen

  9. Carol on July 15, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    I am SO GLAD I came across this article. I have just begun to figure out what is causing all of my horrible rashes and traced it back to about 6 months ago when I had a root canal. But I thought it was just that they had used a rubber dam. Plus coincidentally I began using rubber gloves to clean and wash dishes because I thought my skin issues were due to me washing my hands too much. Now I believe that the trouble may very well still be in my mouth!

    • Jennifer Roberge on July 17, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Oh wow! Great detective work!

  10. Janice on July 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Hello, all,
    I have found another very possible problem for many sensitive people.
    Today I bought a new electric stove after 2 years with a gas stove.
    The first reason I wanted to get rid of the gas stove is that the oven has never cooked my 20 year recipes correctly, or as well as the previous electric ovens did.
    I had heard in the past that gas was not healthy, but this article in our local paper solicited my resolve,
    And now the gas stove is going.
    Thought it may help someone.
    The scary part is when you bake food in a gas oven the gas flame burns, producing toxic offgassed chemical compounds ……that GET IN YOUR FOOD!
    Read this article and think about how this can make us sick, especially children.

    • Janice on July 17, 2018 at 8:09 pm

      To add to my comment…
      Some of the toxic chemicals leaked from natural gas into the air are: lead, chromium, benzene, hexane, formaldehyde, and nitrogen dioxide.
      All of these endanger the health of those in a household,primarily children.
      This is according to Dr. T. Stephan Jones, public health consultant epidemiologist who has retired from the Centers for Disease Control Prevention.

  11. Janice on July 17, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Addendum
    I was unable to add the link to my above comments.
    I did send the link to the editor of this page.. I hope she gets it?
    It won’t allow me to attach a page to my comments heresorry.
    If you google Falmouth Enterprise natural gas risks, the article will come up.
    It details the toxins in the gas.
    An EPA scientist addressed the Board of Selectmen in the town to investigate and petition our governor.

    • Jennifer Roberge on July 20, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Janice – There isn’t a way for us to add an attachment. If you find a website with the information, I can add that however. Let me know. Thanks!

  12. Renee on August 4, 2018 at 1:45 am

    Wow, these are great comments. I had never thought of natural gas releasing toxins that would get absorbed by the food. I am going to read up via your google suggestion, thanks Janice! To the others, I’m glad this story has helped you.

    Another interesting thought…I sent this article to a pal who is a retired environmental chemist and she asked me if I had ever had a plumber replace my rubber water line gaskets with silicon ones. Nope, I had not. That’s next on my to-do list.

    I have a P.S. to the story above, actually. My eczema is returning, though not nearly as bad as it was above. That gutta percha and mesh kept my immune system on hyperdrive, to the point where life was almost not living. The story would have been too long had I gone into the effect the autoimmunity was having on my internal organs, but at one point, the docs were actually considering shutting down my immune system for awhile, to have it “reset”. That’s why I had to have that infected tooth pulled first. Now, though, I can feel the autoimmunity slowly starting to rev up again so I am trying a diet called the LEAP diet, managed by a lady who used it to cure her Hashimoto’s Disease. If it works, I’ll let you know!

  13. carrie on September 13, 2018 at 12:47 am

    damn thats insane. I started having the same hives problem on a much smaller scale like I get one huge blob somewhere on my torso usually sometimes arm never legs and it itches and also has a dull pain like a stuffed feeling being stretched if that makes sense. well it seems to stop once I get on antibiotics and this all started a couple of years after I had dental work done. 3 molars of which were root canals. on the bottom in the very back. come to find out next time I could afford a dental exam xrays showed all those 3 rc treated teeth were failing. I didnt know I didn’t have pain or feel that anything was wrong until a crown of one tooth has popped loose. I pulled it off and o m g the smell was so putrid . the most putrid smell I’ve ever smelled in my life.. which told my gut that something could be seriously wrong and not to just glue it back on.
    I started to think I had hodgkins non lymphoma or something. my white blood cell count came up high again..then after antibiotics and tooth extraction I went from high lyphocytes to high leukocytes so idk wtf I cant just have all my teeth yanked but I guess if I start not being able to breath I will and get dentures but damn.

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