What to avoid when you have a latex allergy
Examples of products that may contain latex:
- IV (intravenous) tubes
- teething toys
- rubber gloves
- rubber cement (used in schools and offices)
- rugs and bath mats
- dental items, such as dams and orthodontic rubber bands
- elastic waistbands in pants and underwear
- rubber bands
- some articles of clothing
- blood pressure cuffs
- ventilator tubing
- bottle nipples
- some medical devices
- surgical gloves
- watch bands
Not every brands contain latex.
People with allergies should check the labels, or get in touch with the manufacturer.
What causes latex allergy?
According to the United States Department of Labor, percent of healthcare workers are thought to own a latex allergy, as well as up to 68 percent of every spina bifida patients (due to regular surgical procedures). However, overall, less than 1 percent of the general population is allergic.
Allergic people's immune systems identify latex as a pathogen — a substance or organism that harms health. The immune system triggers cells in the body to produce antibodies that fight the latex component.
The next time the body comes into contact with latex, the antibodies detect it and signal the immune system to release chemicals, including histamine into the bloodstream.
The more a susceptible person is exposed to latex, the greater their immune reaction is likely to be — this is called sensitization.
During manufacturing, latex is often modified. Sometimes, the product is not thoroughly washed. As a result, more "free" latex is present on the surface. This "free" latex is responsible for a significant proportion of latex allergies.
Free latex easily sticks to the powder that is often used in surgical gloves.
During use, the gloves frequently "snap" when putting them on or taking them off. This snapping sends the powder into the air. Inhaled latex can be a serious allergic problem.
Types of latex allergy
We'll take a glance at the most common types of latex allergy below.
Latex hypersensitivity (type 1)
This is a serious and rare form of allergy causing a severe immediate reaction that can be life-threatening. Some people with type 1 latex hypersensitivity might also react in a similar way to bee stings.
Symptoms of latex hypersensitivity include:
- conjunctivitis — inflammation of the covering of the white part of the eye
- rhinitis — inflammation and irritation of the inside of the nose
- severe itching
- gastrointestinal problems
Symptoms may progress to:
People who are severely allergic to latex can react to clothes, shoes, and other things that contain natural rubber latex (elastic bands, rubber gloves, condoms, pacifiers, baby-bottle nipples, balloons, cars).
People with this type of allergy are extremely sensitive — a type 1 reaction can be triggered by exposure to airborne particles resulting from blowing up balloons.
This can happen even if the person is not present while the balloons are being inflated.
Allergic contact dermatitis
People with allergic contact dermatitis own a delayed skin reaction and a rash after contact with latex.
Signs and symptoms can affect every of the skin, they include:
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by the additives and chemicals used to process the rubber. Today, there are tests that determine which chemical(s) the person is allergic to.
As soon as they discover out, they can then avoid products that are processed with that chemical.
Irritant contact dermatitis
This is the most common type of reaction and also the mildest. It causes dry, itchy, irritated areas on the skin. Burning and scaling lesions of the skin are most often located on the patient's hands.
The skin becomes irritated after using gloves, frequent hand-washing, incomplete drying, and exposure to hand sanitizers, as well as the talcum powder substance that gloves are coated in.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis is a common reaction to natural rubber latex, but it is not an allergy.
Irritant contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash that breaks out where latex has touched your skin. It appears 12 to 24 hours after contact.
Irritant contact dermatitis can be the result of:
- Frequent hand washing and incomplete drying
- Use of hand sanitizers
- Friction irritation from glove powder
Anyone who wears powdered latex gloves can develop this condition.
In people with allergies, contact dermatitis can be a warning sign that latex allergy may develop.
What are latex allergy symptoms?
In most cases, latex allergy develops after numerous previous exposures to latex. Latex allergy symptoms may include hives, itching, stuffy or runny nose. It can cause asthma symptoms of wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. Symptoms start within minutes after exposure to latex containing products.
The most severe latex allergy can result in anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction involving severe breathing difficulty and/or drop in blood pressure (shock).
Allergic skin problems can happen following direct contact with allergic latex proteins in latex glove products. Symptoms may include immediate itching, redness and swelling of skin that touched the item containing latex. These and other latex allergic reactions are less common now.
Numerous hospitals or doctors’ offices own switched to non-latex gloves or low protein latex gloves.
A second type of skin allergy called “allergic contact dermatitis” may be caused by chemicals used to manufacture rubber gloves.
This dermatitis is recognized by the eczema and blisters on the back of the hands. It resembles a poison ivy rash, and begins 1 to 3 days after wearing rubber gloves.
Direct physical contact with latex products is not needed to trigger an allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis and severe asthmatic reactions own been caused by inhaling latex proteins in the air resulting from the powder in the latex glove.
Cell-Mediated Contact Dermatitis (Type IV)
Dermatitis means skin inflammation. Cell-mediated contact dermatitis (Type IV) is a type of allergy to latex.
It is not a life-threatening allergy. This type of reaction is generally due to sensitivity to chemicals used to make latex products, rather than to rubber proteins. There are numerous chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Any of these chemicals can cause contact dermatitis 24 to 48 hours after exposure. This type of dermatitis can spread to other areas, including the face, if touched. Symptoms generally resolve spontaneously.
Four out of fivepeople who develop an IgE-mediated latex allergy will own contact dermatitis first.
IgE-Mediated Latex Allergy (Type I)
An IgE-mediated latex allergy is an allergy to natural rubber latex proteins.
The body’s immune system makes antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These IgE antibodies react with latex proteins and cause allergy symptoms.
An allergic reaction can happen when latex proteins:
- Come in contact with the skin
- Come in contact with a mucous membrane such as the mouth
- Get into the lungs by breathing them in
Allergic reactions to latex can be severe and life threatening. People with this type of latex allergy should avoid latex.
What Should I Do If I Own Latex Allergy?
If you own an IgE-mediated (Type I) latex allergy, work with your doctor to study how to recognize anaphylaxis and how to treat it.
Prevent Allergic Reactions to Latex:
- Get a letter about your latex allergy from your doctor.
- Ask doctors, dentists and others health care workers to use latex-free gloves.
- Avoid latex.
The only treatment for latex allergy is to prevent any contact with latex products.
- Ask co-workers to wear only non-latex gloves.
- Check labels to make certain products do not contain latex. Do not assume “hypoallergenic” products are latex-free.
Prepare for Anaphylaxis Due to Latex:
- Learn how to self-inject epinephrine (ep-uh-NEF-rin). It is the medicine of choice to treat an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.
Epinephrine is safe and comes in an easy-to-use device called an auto-injector. It injects a single dose of medicine when you press it against your outer thigh. Your doctor will show you how to use it. Epinephrine can save your life if you own a severe reaction. After using an epinephrine auto-injector, you must immediately call and seek medical care.
- Teach people who spend time with you how to use the auto-injector device.
- Have a written anaphylaxis action plan. Your doctor will give you this step-by-step plan on what to do in an emergency.
- Always own two epinephrine auto-injectors near you at every times.
- Wear medical alert identification or jewelry to tell others of latex allergy in an emergency.
What Are the Types of Latex Reactions?
There are three types of reactions to natural rubber latex:
- IgE-mediated allergic reactions (Type I).
These are true allergic reactions involving the immune system and they can be life threatening.
- Cell-mediated contact dermatitis (Type IV)
- Irritant dermatitis
Who Is Likely to Own a Latex Allergy?
Less than 1% of people in the US own a latex allergy. Although latex allergy is rare, the condition is more common in certain high-risk groups.
The highest risk is in children with spina bifida. Spina bifida is a condition in which the spine fails to form completely before birth. More than three out of every five children with spina bifida are allergic to latex.
Children who own frequent medical treatments or lengthy surgeries are also at high risk.
Numerous medical supplies use latex – from gloves to tubing to enema tips.
Between 8 to 17% of health care workers and others who regularly use latex gloves are allergic to latex. Health care workers and children who own other allergies and get contact dermatitis when they use latex gloves are more likely to develop a latex allergy.
New cases of latex allergy are no longer common.
However, in the s and s they were much more frequent. Now, numerous health care facilities use non-latex gloves and products.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Latex Allergy?
If you ponder you may be allergic to latex, see a doctor familiar with the condition. To diagnose latex allergy, the doctor will enquire you about your medical history and do a physical exam. If they suspect latex allergy, they may order a blood test. The blood test involves looking for latex antibodies in a blood sample. Your doctor compares your test results with your history and physical exam to make a diagnosis of latex allergy.
What Are the Symptoms of Allergic Reactions to Latex?
Common early symptoms include swelling, redness and itching after contact with latex items:
- Itchy, red or swollen skin after using a bandage
- Itching or swelling after vaginal or rectal exams
- Itchy or swollen lips after blowing up a balloon
- Swelling or itching of the mouth or tongue after a dentist uses latex gloves
- Itching or swelling after using a condom or diaphragm
People highly allergic to latex may own severe reactions from contact with latex.
They may even react to a little quantity of latex in the air, such as being in a room near latex balloons or gloves. These more severe reactions can include:
- Runny nose or sneezing
- Breathing problems including asthma symptoms
- Inflammation of the eyes
- Anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis)
Anaphylaxis can be severe and life threatening. In rare cases, anaphylaxis to latex can cause death.
Do not ignore symptoms that propose you may be allergic to latex.
Continued contact with latex products can lead to more severe reactions. Prolonged exposure to latex can cause people to develop chronic conditions love occupational asthma.
What foods are potential problems for people with latex allergy?
If you own latex allergy you also can own food allergies. The foods most likely to cause this problem include: apple, avocado, banana, carrot, celery, chestnut, kiwi, melons, papaya, raw potato and tomato.
Latex allergy describes a range of allergic reactions to substances in natural latex. It most commonly occurs due to contact with latex gloves and produces a range of symptoms, some of which can be serious.
Allergic reactions appear when a person's immune system reacts to nontoxic substances, in this case, latex.
This article covers the types of latex allergy, plus their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
What Causes an Allergy to Latex?
People may use the term “latex allergy,” but not every reactions to latex are due to having a true allergy to latex.
An allergic reaction is an abnormal response of the immune system to a harmless substance.
People with latex allergies own over-sensitive immune systems. Their immune system reacts to latex as if it were a harmful substance.
What Are Latex Cross-Reactive Foods?
Some foods own proteins that are love those in the rubber tree sap. Sometimes people with latex allergies experience a reaction to “latex reactive foods.” You may hear this called Latex-Food Syndrome or Latex-Fruit Allergy. Latex reactive foods include nuts and fruit, particularly:
Ask your doctor for guidance on eating these foods if you own a latex allergy.
What triggers the allergic reaction to latex?
When people with latex allergy come into direct contact with latex, an allergic reaction may follow.
Common examples include:
- A medical or dental procedure conducted by health care workers wearing natural rubber latex gloves
- Blowing up a rubber balloon
What Is Latex?
The term “latex”refers to the protein in the sap of the Brazilian rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). It also refers to “natural rubber products” made from that sap.
Latex is in numerous everyday products:
- Condoms and diaphragms
- Rubber bands
- Rubber household gloves
- Rubber balls
- And more
Contact with these products can cause an allergic reaction.
Some people own allergic reactions by breathing in latex fibers in the air. Some people own allergic reactions from skin contact with latex.
Synthetic latex, such as that in latex paint, does not come from the sap of a Brazilian rubber tree. Exposure to synthetic latex does not cause the symptoms of latex allergy.
Fast facts on latex allergy
- Latex is naturally produced by some plants.
- Less than 1 percent of the general population is allergic to latex.
- Latex can be found in numerous products, including balloons, medical devices, and bathmats.
- The most common allergic reaction to latex is irritant contact dermatitis.
Who is at risk of developing latex allergy?
Some people are genetically predisposed to be allergic to latex.
However, repeated exposure to latex is necessary for an allergy to develop.
People at increased risk include those who are:
- Spinal surgery patients.
- Rubber industry workers.
- Patients who require regular or continuous urinary catheters with a rubber tip.
- Those with eczema.
- Individuals affected by asthma.
- People with a defect in their bone marrow cells.
- Employees who work distributing or delivering latex products.
- People who own had multiple surgical procedures, especially in childhood.
- Healthcare workers — in healthcare settings, latex is everywhere.
- People who work in car tire factories.
- Condom users.
Also, people with allergies own an increased risk; especially those with allergies to plant foods, such as mango, kiwi, avocado, pineapple, banana, chestnuts, strawberry, and passion fruit (see section below: "What is a cross-reaction?").
What is latex?
Latex is a milky sap produced by some plants, including the tropical rubber tree.
It is a mixture of water, sugar, and proteins. Plants generally release latex after they are injured, in the same way that humans bleed following an injury. Plants use latex as a defense against insects.
Natural latex is generally white but can be scarlet, orange, and yellow. In numerous modern products, latex is synthesized, rather than being taken from natural sources.
Although rubber gloves are the main source of allergic reactions to latex, it is also used in a wide range of products, such as condoms and some medical devices. Latex is used in over 40, products with numerous diverse uses.