Allergy guide - Explanation

Allergy guide - Allergy scheme

Allergy guide - Explanation

Allergy guide- More information



Allergy information

Types of allergies
If you’re suffering from symptoms that point to an allergic reaction, this might not have been caused by the condoms you’ve used. There may well be another cause, such as a sexually transmitted infection. We would strongly advise you to contact your doctor. If it is still unclear what is causing the symptoms, then your doctor will refer you to a dermatologist or allergy specialist.

If you’re allergic to a certain substance, you might not notice anything immediately after you have been exposed to that substance:

Type I allergy usually causes an allergic reaction very quickly, often within an hour.
Type IV allergy means that the allergic reaction occurs several hours or even several days later.

Allergic reactions after condom use can be classified as follows:

A. Rubber-allergy

A1. Latex allergy:

  • proteins in natural rubber latex (NRL)

A2. Rubber chemical allergy:

  • Additives such as chemical accelerators: thiurams, carbamates and mercaptobenzothiazoles
  • Vulcanising agents (sulphur)
  • Scents (including perfume) and flavourings
  • Colourings
  • Preservatives (antioxidants)

B. Lubricant Allergy

  • Certain substance in the lubricant
  • Additives in the lubricant (including Nonoxynol-9, scents and flavourings)

C. Allergy to Rubber and Lubricant

A. Rubber allergy
If it is a rubber allergy, there are two possibilities.

A1. Latex-Protein-Allergy
Some people have an allergic reaction to the proteins that are present in the latex itself (the thick white liquid produced by the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis). Symptoms of this allergy to the proteins include watery eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, irritated or itching skin and unusual swelling of the penis or labia (lips of the vulva).

Even an anaphylactic shock is possible - when a person’s blood pressure suddenly drops dramatically. This severe allergic reaction usually happens within an hour after contact with latex products. It is life-threatening, but fortunately very rare.

Latex allergy can be caused by allergies to tropical fruits. So if you react to bananas, avocados, kiwis, chestnuts or the Ficus benjamina plant, you may also be allergic to latex products. This is called a cross-reaction. Cross-reactions occur when allergens are very similar.

Latex allergy can also be caused by an airborne allergen. Have you ever had an allergic reaction in a treatment room or other place where latex is used? Then you may be allergic to latex.

Advice on latex protein allergy:
latex free condoom 
female condom
condom made from lamb intestines (only suitable as a contraceptive, does not protect against HIV or other STIs)

See our non-latex trial pack.

A2. Rubber chemicals allergy 
Some people have an allergic reaction to the chemicals used to turn the latex into stretchy rubber. The chemicals in the rubber can cause eczema (dermatitis) where the skin has come into contact with them. Colourings and perfumes that have been added to the latex concentrate can have a similar effect. Symptoms usually occur several hours, or even several days, after contact with the rubber product.

Advice on rubber chemicals allergy:
latex free condoom 
female condom
condom made from lamb intestines (only suitable as a contraceptive, does not protect against HIV or other STIs)

- a different brand of condom to the one currently used (the latex composition varies per brand)

See our trial packs.

B. Allergy to a certain substance in the lubricant

There are two possibilities:

B1. Neutral Lubricants 
Neutral lubricants don’t usually cause any problems, but you could be allergic to a certain substance in the lubricant. In that case, it’s difficult to find out which lubricant is the most suitable. The manufacturer of the lubricant is not obliged to state all the ingredients on the pack. The only thing you can do is try condoms with neutral lubricant from another brand or use a dry condom (with no lubricant).

Advice on allergy to a certain substance in a neutral lubricant:
- try a condom from another brand with a neutral lubricant (i.e. a lubricant containing no spermicides or any other additives such as flavourings or stimulants) or a dry condom (see our trial packs)

- go to a dermatologist to find out what you are allergic to (take the lubricant with you)

B2. Additives to the lubricant
Some lubricants contain substances with an extra function, such as:
- spermicides (to help prevent pregnancy)
- Nonoxynol-9 (antiviral action)
- flavourings/scents 
- desensitisers: lidocaine/benzocaine (to delay ejaculation)
- stimulants: papaverine (to enhance erections), menthol (stimulating)

These additives are known to cause allergic reactions, varying from irritated mucous membranes (with itching, redness or discharge) to cuts and sores, inflammations, and increased susceptibility to urinary and fungal infections.

Advice on allergy to lubricant additives (e.g. lubricant with spermicide):
- try a condom with a neutral lubricant (see our trial packs)
- go to a dermatologist to find out what you are allergic to (take the lubricant with you)

C. Rubber and Lubricante
You may react to various substances. So you could be allergic to both rubber and a substance in the lubricant.

- try rinsing a female condom or a latex free condoom carefully with lukewarm water before use