A condom allergy is usually triggered by a specific substance in the condom, like the latex or a component of the lubricant. Some condoms may have spermicides as well as colors or flavors which can be irritating,
A condom allergy usually presents with symptoms like genital itching, redness and swelling. Some people may additionally notice sneezing and coughing. These symptoms can emerge 12 to 36 hours after initial contact with the condom.
To confirm a diagnosis, you should consult a gynecologist. urologist or allergy specialist for allergy testing and treatment. The doctor may recommend a condom made from other substances. Condom allergies that cause intense symptoms may be treated with antihistamines, anti-inflammatories and een corticosteroids.
The most common symptoms of a condom allergy include:
- Genital itching and swelling
- Skin redness
- Peeling skin around the groin
- Constant sneezing
- Scratchy throat
More severe allergies can cause other, more intense symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath and the feeling that your throat is closing. These symptoms should be urgently assessed. Some people may experience hypersensitivity to condoms over time, after prolonged, frequent use.
Condom allergy symptoms are very common in women, as the vaginal mucus membranes can easily allow latex proteins to enter the body. This can cause swelling and vaginal itching as a result.
If you notice symptoms, you should see a gynecologist or urologist, to confirm a diagnosis and/or to rule out other health conditions that present similarly, like an STI.
People with a condom allergy can opt for condoms made from other materials, such as:
- Polyurethane condoms: These are produced with a very thin plastic instead of latex. It is equally efficient in protecting against STIs and unwanted pregnancy.
- Polyisoprene condoms: These are made from a synthetic rubber and do not contain any latex proteins, which is ideal for anyone with a latex allergy. These condoms are also safe for use to protect against STIs and unwanted pregnancy.
- Female condoms: This type of condom is generally made from a plastic that does not contain latex, and the risk for allergies are much lower.
There are also condoms on the market made from sheep‘s skin. These do not contain latex, but they do have microscopic holes that may permit the transmission of bacteria or viruses, and therefore they are not recommended.
Many times, people are allergic to the lubricant or aromas added to condoms, and in those cases, patients are advised to opt for condoms with water-based lubes without any added coloring or flavors. Allergies that cause severe irritation and swelling may be further treated with anti-histamines, anti-inflammatories or corticosteroids.
Diagnosing an allergy
To confirm a condom allergy diagnosis, you should first see a gynecologist, urologist or allergy specialist for a symptom ecaluation. The doctor will assess the skin’s condition, and then order testing to confirm the substance that triggered the allergy (e.g. the latex, the lubricant, additives, etc.).
The doctor may order bloodwork to measure whether the body produced certain antibodies as a reaction, also known as IgE antibodies. The docto may also conduct a patch test, in which small amounts of the possible trigger are applied to the skin and evaluated for reaction.