Some people experience itchiness, redness, or swelling after using a condom. These can be symptoms of a latex allergy.

Latex comes from the milky sap of rubber trees. Manufacturers use latex in a variety of medical and commercial products, including condoms.

Natural rubber latex contains proteins that can cause allergic reactions. According to a , these allergies may occur in around 4.3% of the world's population.

Latex allergies develop gradually through repeated exposure to latex products. The symptoms can vary greatly in severity.

This article describes the symptoms of a latex allergy and looks into other allergic reactions that can occur during or after sex. We also discuss treatment options and when to see a doctor.

A person can have an allergic reaction after touching latex products or inhaling latex particles. The allergic reaction can vary in severity, causing a wide range of symptoms.

Mild allergic reaction

A mild allergic reaction to latex can cause immediate symptoms, such as:

Moderate allergic reaction

a condom which may cause an allergic reaction to
An allergic reaction to latex may cause itchiness, swelling, or redness.

Symptoms of a moderate reaction to latex include:

Severe allergic reaction

A person with a severe allergy may experience a life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

During anaphylaxis, the immune system triggers the release of large numbers of inflammatory compounds called histamines. These compounds cause rapid and severe inflammation throughout the body.

According to the , symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

The symptoms of anaphylaxis occur suddenly and can progress rapidly. People experiencing this require immediate treatment with epinephrine, a drug that counteracts allergic reactions.

A person should emergency services immediately if they or someone around them experiences anaphylaxis.

If a person has an allergic reaction after using a condom, latex may not be the culprit.

Many condom manufacturers coat their products in substances such as spermicide and lubricant. These can contain chemicals that can irritate sensitive genital tissues.


A person can buy spermicide as a gel, foam, or suppository.

Spermicide is a form of birth control that prevents sperm from reaching the egg. Spermicide is available as a gel, foam, or suppository. People can also buy condoms coated in spermicide.

The active ingredient in many spermicides is nonoxynol-9, which kills sperm cells. When a person uses it frequently, however, it can cause irritation and soreness.

According to a from the World Health Organization (WHO), frequent spermicide use may also increase a person's risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — such as gonorrhea and chlamydia — because it may make the vaginal mucosa more susceptible to invasion from microorganisms.


Personal lubricant can enhance sexual experience, but some lubricants contain chemicals such as propylene glycol and glycerol. These can cause skin irritation in some people.

Some condoms have lubricant coating. People who are sensitive or allergic to compounds in lubricants should use nonlubricated condoms.

Some lubricants also contain spermicides. In a , researchers found that spermicide-containing lubricants can disrupt the structure of vaginal tissue cells. This can increase the risk of infections, such as bacterial vaginosis and STIs.