Nutrition

Mystery Rash and Latex Allergies

Mystery RashMy Paleo MD emailed an interesting article on Urticaria to help me whittle down what could be causing this episodic, mysterious rash (as you can see in the photo the rash appears in symmetric fashion, below both arm pits, also between the breasts, mid-belly and mid-back, and pubic area). One possible cause that jumped out at me while reading the article was latex cross-reactivity in fruits and vegetables.

A little history: When I started my first laboratory job, I used latex gloves with cornstarch powder on a daily basis. Within weeks of working and wearing latex gloves, I was sent to the emergency room with a terrible rash on my hands, more concentrated at the hair follicles between my knuckles. The ER doc diagnosed me with contact dermatitis, but wasn’t sure if latex was the cause or the cornstarch powder that lines the inner gloves to prevent sweating. As a precaution I was told to steer clear of latex.

I soon decided for myself that latex was the culprit because years prior I experienced very painful intercourse and couldn’t understand why. Latex condoms! So, okay…stay away from latex condoms and latex gloves. Case closed, right? Well, the article states,

Patients who are latex-protein allergic may also react to a wide variety of foods…because of cross-reactivity between the latex protein antigens and food antigens or, if they are highly sensitized, they may develop symptoms after eating food-stuffs which have been handled by workers wearing latex gloves…

I’m about to embark on yet another experiment – this time removing fruits and vegetables known to cause urticaria in those with latex allergies. Foods that have a high frequency of cross-reactivity with latex proteins are avocados, bananas, and chestnuts. Those with moderate frequency are apple, carrot, celery, kiwi, melon, papaya, potato, and tomato.

Because I’m following a Ketogenic Diet, I’ve already removed many of the foods listed. So for the next two months I will omit avocados and celery.

As described on this Food Allergies Database

Avocado allergy can take two different forms: one associated with allergy to tree pollen, such as birch, and another type associated with latex allergy. People with birch-pollen allergy can develop symptoms either immediately or up to 1 hour after eating fresh avocado or an avocado-containing food. Symptoms comprise local reactions in the mouth and throat with itching and inflammation (called oral allergy syndrome, OAS).

Others develop an avocado allergy because of the similarity between the allergens in avocado and natural rubber latex (e.g. gloves, condoms, balloons) a condition known as the latex-fruit syndrome. Symptoms developed by these individuals comprise generalized urticaria, abdominal pain, vomiting and sometimes life-threatening symptoms…

rash mid-back

Another possible answer to my rash could be my migraine abortive Axert. A known adverse side effect is hives.

Along with avocados, I’m going to remove canned fish and once again remove eggs in case histamine is the cause. As you can tell, I’m attempting to combat this rash through multiple approaches. And if I can knock out migraines in the process, that will end the need for Axert and its potential side effect of hives.

13 thoughts on “Mystery Rash and Latex Allergies

  1. Thanks for this post Jasmine. I have a lot of food allergies (oral symptoms, not rashes), and am also allergic to just the smell of latex. It would have never occurred to me that food handlers wear latex gloves. I’ve been grain-free, epi-paleo for 2 years and it doesn’t cure allergies. Do you take any allergy medicine?

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    1. Hi Michelle, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m sorry to hear you can relate. When the rash popped up during the heat and and humidity of summer, I was at my wits end and used an OTC antibiotic cream. I tried to mainly use coconut oil, but it wasn’t helping the itch at all.

      I’m not taking any other prescribed medication besides my migraine abortive. I’d imagine you’re in a bind because your reaction is oral. I’m sorry to hear Paleo hasn’t helped. Perhaps, like me, you just have to keep trying to eliminate certain foods. But, as you noticed, if a food handler wears latex, can we ever feel 100% secure about what we’re consuming?

      Have you omitted all of the foods listed in the article? I understand it’s not a cure, but here’s hoping that by eliminating suspect foods we will find substantial relief.

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  2. Hi Jasmine,
    I’m really interested in your story. We have similar health issues. I’ve had migraines since 8 yes old (I’m 36). I too am allergic to latex( discovered this after we blew up condoms, to attach to my just married friends car:( got a terrible rash on my face. I’m had reactions from mango, which I later found out is related to latex. I basically have stopped eating all plant foods except herbs, spices, and almonds. I feel so much better. Sorry for writing so much. Looking forward to reading your blog.

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    1. Hello Saara,
      It’s always bitter sweet to find someone in the same boat as me. I’m glad to hear you found the right foods to eliminate to help your situation. I’m hopefully almost there myself. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You give me hope :)

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  3. Hello!

    The rash on your body is “prurigo pigmentosa”.
    Its caused by low-carb diet on some people. Nobody knows exactly what the mechanism behind it is. There are ao far 2 solutions.

    * Eat more carbs, 50 grams a day should suffice.

    * antibiotics (although no one knows if it will come back if you continue eating lowcarb)

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    1. Thank you, budsson! I remember sharing a blog with my doc from a keto lifter who had prurigo pigmentosa, and said his rash would disappear whenever he added more carbs. Because I was trying to reach a deep level of ketosis (4.0mM and higher), my doc advised me against it.

      I have an appointment with an immunologist next week, hoping to get a professional diagnosis and test for food and environmental sensitivities. But if her only solution is weekly allergy shots (been there, done that) or antibiotics (been there, done that as well), I’m going to say No Thank You and simply add more carbs.

      Have you experienced this rash? How did you discover it was Prurigo Pigmentosa?
      Thank you again,
      Jasmine

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  4. Regarding latex allergies, double check foods/plants that have a milky white, sticky sap/liquid when cut. I discovered my latex allergy when making fig jam. The sap contains natural latex. Same with milk weed and many other plants.

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  5. Jasmine, this could be from the elastic (natural rubber latex!) in your bras. For those of you with latex allergy, there is an excellent support group on Facebook called NoLatex to help figure out all the environmental and food triggers. There is a great article on http://www.allergynutrition.com (see FAQ, latex, then latex detail document) about food crosses. Also, don’t forget medications may be handled with latex gloves by the manufacturer — and the corks in injectables (flu vaccine, for example) may have latex. Good luck!

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