Treating Latex Allergy
What Is Latex Allergy?
- Disposable gloves
- Rubber bands
- Adhesive tape and bandages
- Baby bottle nipples
- Rubber aprons
Reactions to Latex
- Irritant contact dermatitis—The development of dry, itchy, irritated areas on the skin, usually the hands. The irritation is caused by using gloves, and possibly by contact with other products and chemicals. Irritant contact dermatitis is not a true allergy to latex. It comes on gradually over the course of several days.
- Allergic contact dermatitis (also known as delayed hypersensitivity or chemical sensitivity dermatitis)—A rash similar to poison ivy, which results from exposure to chemicals added to latex during harvesting, processing, or manufacturing. The rash usually begins 12-48 hours after contact.
- Latex allergy (also known as immediate hypersensitivity)—A more serious reaction to latex than irritant contact dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis.
- Red skin
- Runny nose
- Trouble breathing
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Chest tightness
Who Is at Risk for Latex Allergy?
- Healthcare workers who frequently use latex gloves and latex-containing medical supplies, especially those healthcare workers who already have hay fever or other allergic conditions
- Workers who occasionally use latex gloves, such as law enforcement personnel, ambulance attendants, firefighters, or housekeepers
- People with spina bifida, probably because of multiple surgeries and other procedures
- Individuals who have had multiple surgical or medical procedures during childhood
- Workers in factories where latex products are manufactured or used
- People with a tendency to have multiple allergic conditions
- People who are allergic to certain foods, such as avocado, bananas, chestnuts, kiwi, papaya, potatoes, and tomatoes
If You Have a Latex Allergy
- Avoid direct contact with latex. Try to find out which products in your environment contain latex and look for substitutes.
- If you need to wear gloves, use non-latex gloves.
- If you must use latex gloves to avoid contamination, use powder-free gloves with reduced protein content.
- Avoid areas where you might inhale powder from latex gloves.
- If you are a healthcare worker or patient, everyone around you should wear non-latex gloves.
- Be sure to tell your employer and all your healthcare providers that you have a latex allergy.
- Always wear a medical alert bracelet. Talk to your doctor about getting an epinephrine self-injection pen, for use in case of a serious reaction.
- Be cautious or avoid eating foods with known cross-reactivity in people with latex allergy, such as kiwi, avocado, bananas, and chestnuts.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology http://www.aaaai.org
American Latex Allergy Association http://latexallergyresources.org
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety http://www.ccohs.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Common latex products. American Latex Allergy Association website. Available at: http://latexallergyresources.org/common-latex-products. Accessed June 10, 2014.
Contact dermatitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 28, 2014. Accessed June 10, 2014.
Latex allergy. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website. Available at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/latexallergy/index.html. Accessed June 10, 2014.
Latex allergy: tips to remember. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/Library/At-a-Glance/Latex-Allergy.aspx. Accessed June 10, 2014.
Natural rubber allergy in spina bifida. Spina Bifida Association of America website. Available at: http://www.spinabifidaassociation.org/site/c.evKRI7OXIoJ8H/b.8031517/apps/s/content.asp?ct=12072813. Accessed June 10, 2014.
Pollart SM, Warniment C, et al. Latex allergy. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80(12):1413-1418. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/1215/p1413.html.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 06/2014 -
- Update Date: 00/61/2014 -