Condoms are an integral tool in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. When a condom is used right, that barrier can keep diseases out and can keep fertile eggs from meeting up with willing sperm. Unfortunately, most condoms are made of latex, and experts suggest that about 6 percent of the population is allergic to this substance. Proper penis care can help ease a latex reaction, and buying less inflammatory products in the future can keep new outbreaks from taking place.
A Natural Product
Latex is made from the milky fluids produced by a rubber tree. Particles in latex are packed together so tightly that even tiny germ particles can't pass through, and the material is so strong that it rarely breaks, even when it's pulled or pinched. It's easy to see why this material would be idea for condom production, and it's similarly understandable that medical experts would consider latex the gold standard when it comes to protecting men and women from the consequences of sex.
Latex allergies can crop up in almost anyone, but people who have a history of allergies or asthma are typically at greater risk. Their immune systems are just primed to react to signals from the outside world. People who wear rubber gloves at work or who make rubber products might be at increased risk as well, since allergies thrive on repeat exposure.
People who have latex allergies typically experience reactions about 48 hours after they've been exposed to the substance, although some people can experience their symptoms up to 96 hours later. Common symptoms of a latex condom allergy in men include:
- Rings of rashes near the base of the penis
- A swollen, red penis tip
- Itchy, raised blisters on the penis
- Swollen lips or tongue, if the condom came into contact with the mouth
In extreme cases, people with latex allergies can develop sneezing fits, as well as stinging eyes and a runny nose. These symptoms can appear almost immediately, as soon as the latex touches the skin, and they can progress to a life-threatening state. Highly sensitive people can find it difficult to breathe, and they might lose consciousness. People who develop breathing problems should go to a hospital right away. Medications can be used to halt the attack, and soothing therapies can keep inflamed and sore skin from getting worse.
Finding the Cause
Latex is the likely culprit when people at risk develop sensitivity after using condoms. But some people react to the lubricants in condoms, not the latex, and other people have rashes that seem like allergic reactions that are really symptoms of another problem, such as genital herpes. A doctor can run in-office tests to determine exactly what is causing symptoms a man might have.
If a latex allergy is to blame, there are alternate materials that could provide an effective barrier without triggering a reaction. Polyurethane condoms contain no latex at all, and some users report that they conduct heat a little better and provide a more pleasurable experience. Polyisoprene condoms, which are made of a synthetic form of latex which has the allergenic components removed, is suitable for people with mild or moderate latex allergies, and they could be a good choice for some.
A latex allergy can leave the skin of the penis feeling dry, itchy and inflamed. A good penis health crème (health experts recommend Man 1 Man Oil) can help to soften this skin and allow it to heal. Avoiding sexual contact until the penis has completely healed might be another excellent step to take, just to ensure that newly formed skin isn't abraded and healing steps aren't lost in the process.