Woman, 56, is so allergic to latex she can't be in the same room as a balloon

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A woman who is deathly allergic to latex cannot even share a room with a balloon because she could have a dangerous reaction to particles in the air. 

Liz Knight has spent most of her life avoiding latex because of its potentially fatal effects, and has to clingfilm everything with rubber buttons so she can touch them.

Allergy-stricken since childhood, Mrs Knight was sensitive to dust, feathers, animal fur and even human hair when she was younger.

She had to have her own hair cut short so it didn't irritate her skin and was left outside in the car when her family visited an aunt who owned a budgie.

Now 56, she has to adapt every aspect of her life to make sure nothing triggers a reaction or sends her into anaphylactic shock and sometimes feels 'trapped' at home.

Liz Knight, from Paignton in Devon, said she is allergic to the buttons on her remote controls so she has to wrap them in clingfilm so they're still usable

Liz Knight, from Paignton in Devon, said she is allergic to the buttons on her remote controls so she has to wrap them in clingfilm so they're still usable

Mrs Knight, from Paignton in Devon, has suffered with irritated skin her whole life.

In her 20s her eczema got infected and led to septicaemia, which left her hospitalised for weeks.

But it wasn't until the 1990s when she was at a fair with her family, that she suspected a latex allergy.

'One of my daughters handed me a handful of these great, big, thick helium balloons and asked me if I could hold them while she ran off to do something,' she told BBC Devon.

'I must have touched my face after holding them because that's when this dramatic swelling started.'

Mrs Knight has suffered with problematic skin for her whole life, and she can now develop allergic symptoms even if she leaves the window open during roadworks or touches newspaper ink, she claims

Mrs Knight has suffered with problematic skin for her whole life, and she can now develop allergic symptoms even if she leaves the window open during roadworks or touches newspaper ink, she claims

Mrs Knight – pictured holding the clingfilmed handle of her hairdryer – says it upsets her that she can't do normal things which other people do

Mrs Knight – pictured holding the clingfilmed handle of her hairdryer – says it upsets her that she can't do normal things which other people do

WHAT IS ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK?

Anaphylaxis, also known as anaphylactic shock, can kill within minutes.

It is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger, such as an allergy.

The reaction can often be triggered by certain foods, including peanuts and shellfish.

However, some medicines, bee stings, and even latex used in condoms can also cause the life-threatening reaction.

According to the NHS, it occurs when the immune system overreacts to a trigger. 

Symptoms include: feeling lightheaded or faint; breathing difficulties – such as fast, shallow breathing; wheezing; a fast heartbeat; clammy skin; confusion and anxiety and collapsing or losing consciousness. 

It is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.

Insect stings are not dangerous for most victims but a person does not necessarily have to have a pre-existing condition to be in danger. 

An incremental build-up of stings can cause a person to develop an allergy, with a subsequent sting triggering the anaphylactic reaction.

Mrs Knight believes she developed the allergy by repeated exposure to latex from going to the doctors so much, which exposed her already fragile skin to the material.

Her everyday life has been impacted in a multitude of ways.

She can no longer read a newspaper because the ink contains latex.

It is the same with the buttons on remote controls, the handle of her carving knife, her blender, mixer and hairdryer, all of which are covered with cling film so she can still use them.

Whenever there are roadworks nearby, Mrs Knight says she has to keep her doors and windows closed because the road surface contains latex. 

'I often feel trapped,' she said.

'Sometimes I stay at home for up to a week, just because it's safe.'

Then four years ago Mrs Knight got confirmation of what she was dreading – she could

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