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Latex allergy?

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Tiffany asks:

I think I'm allergic to condoms but I'm not completely sure. Every time I have sex with my partner with a condom I get a rash the next day & it itches & burns a lot. It takes like a week for it to go away so every time we have sex we have to wait till its gone to have sex again otherwise it hurts really really bad. Also if it is an allergic reaction how can I take care of it without my parents knowing because they don't know I'm having sex & I do NOT want to tell them. Is there anything in the house I can use to cure it fast? Help!

Heather Corinna replies:

If what you are having is, in fact, an allergic reaction, then you can treat it like any other allergy. You can take a general allergy medication, like a Benadryl tablet. In terms of your genital symptoms and soothing them fast, I'd suggest a cool, bubble-less bath. You might try adding oatmeal to the bath -- I know it sounds weird, but it's a tried-and-true home remedy for skin soothing. A cool compress might do the trick, too. After you're out of the bath, you can just dry yourself off and go, or put a little natural aloe vera gel on the affected area.

This sounds like it might be a latex allergy or sensitivity to me, too, so next time around, I'd suggest trying a non-latex condom. Avanti, made by Durex, is a common brand you can get at most pharmacies where you find all the other condoms. As well, the female condom is also non-latex, so that's an option for you, too. If you use either of those without any problems, then we can pretty safely say you do, indee,d have an issue with latex, and would want to be sure you let anyone know that, be that sexual partners who want to use their own condoms, or a doctor giving you an exam using a latex glove.

When you pick up one of those, be sure to pick up a bottle of a good lubricant, too. Not only will that make any kind of condom more comfortable for everyone using them, in the case that what's going on here isn't a latex allergy or sensitivity, but a reaction from too much friction, that should take care of that.

Just for the record, when teens are sexually active, parents usually will find out. I respect your choice to keep your sex life private, I'd just be aware that your parents are likely to discover this at some point, and things do always tend to go better if you tell them rather than get caught in lies, so I'd consider talking to them at some point.

Lastly, because you are sexually active, it is important you start getting regular sexual healthcare.

You want to be sure that you get screened for sexually transmitted infections at least every year and also start your bimanual exams and pap smears. I want to be sure you're aware you don't need a parent's permission to do that, and that you also know that your health information is protected. In other words, what you tell a healthcare provider is required to stay with them. Because you are having some symptoms we want to be sure are what we think they are -- an allergy, rather than something else -- I'd suggest getting in to see someone in the near future. As well, even if this is an allergy you can identify yourself, you want to find out how severe an allergy it is: if it has the potential to be severe, a doctor may prescribe you something to use should you come in contact with latex again, like an epi-pen.

You can get that care through your regular family physician, a private gynecologist or via a general or sexual health clinic. Clinics like Planned Parenthood have sliding scale fees based on your income, not that of your folks, so those services are usually affordable.

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