Latex allergy describes an immunologic reaction to either the proteins found in latex or to the chemical substances used in manufacturing latex. Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree, named Hevea brasiliensis. The proteins found in this tree can evoke an allergic reaction. Synthetic latex is manufactured from petrochemicals. If you show sensitivity to many chemicals, you may develop an allergy to latex due to the contact with petroleum. Surgical gloves contain petrochemicals and cause many skin reactions. You can experience an allergic reaction from direct contact or inhalation. Latex products release particles into the air that you can inhale. This can cause breathing problems for those that are allergic to latex. However, the most common cause of latex allergy involves touching latex gloves or balloons. Direct contact causes the most allergic reactions, especially allergic contact dermatitis. Latex Allergy Symptoms Itchy skin • Skin redness • Hives or rash Sneezing • Runny nose • Itchy, watery eyes • Scratchy throat • Difficulty breathing • Wheezing • Cough Difficulty breathing Allergy-induced anaphylaxis If you’re allergic to latex, symptoms will occur depending on how sensitive you are to the allergen. Allergic reactions can get more severe the more you are exposed to latex. You should seek medical attention immediately after symptoms appear and avoid all products that contain latex. Products That Contain Latex And Should Be Avoided Dishwashing gloves Some types of carpeting Balloons Rubber toys Hot water bottles Rubber bands Swim goggles Condoms Racket handles Surgical masks People that are allergic to latex can’t use most condoms. This is a huge problem for some people, because it warrants unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. There are non-latex condoms, but they usually cost more than latex condoms. They also don’t stretch as much as latex, so it’s easier to break. Another downfall is that some non-latex brands do not protect against sexually transmitted infections. Latex Allergy Cross-reactivity If you’re allergic to latex you may be allergic to some fruits and nuts. This is because certain foods contain the same allergens found in latex. Our immune systems identify the proteins in these foods and register them as harmful. This condition is commonly referred to as latex‐fruit syndrome. 30%-50% of individuals with a latex allergy show sensitivity to plant-based foods.These foods include: Avocado Banana Chestnut Kiwi Passionfruit Melon The most reported allergy related to this cross-reactivity is an avocado allergy. Those who are allergic to avocado and latex exhibit most of the same symptoms. Diagnosing A Latex Allergy A latex allergy can be diagnosed with a skin prick test. An allergist will safely administer the test by pricking the skin with a small amount of the allergen, followed by introducing the allergen beneath the skin if no reaction is observed by the skin prick. This method is called intradermal testing. Since latex is known to cause severe allergic reactions, your doctor will have epinephrine on hand to treat any symptoms. Latex Allergy Treatment There isn’t a cure for latex allergies, but medications can help treat symptoms. For less severe symptoms, antihistamines and corticosteroids are available to help relieve discomfort. If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to latex in the past, you should carry epinephrine with you. Your doctor will teach you how to administer the injection. The allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers are experts in allergy and immunology. We will create a personalized treatment plan for your latex allergy. Call (212) 686-4448 to start your treatment today. Frequently Asked Questions Who is likely to get a latex allergy? Healthcare workers are more likely to get a latex allergy because of their constant exposure to it. Children with Spina Bifida are also at risk of developing this allergy. 50%-60% of Spina Bifida patients have a latex allergy. Can babies develop a latex allergy? It is possible for babies to develop a latex allergy. They are often exposed to natural rubber latex products, such as pacifiers and feeding nipples. It’s best to get your baby allergy tested as soon as possible. Are there alternatives to latex condoms for those with a latex allergy? Yes, there are non-latex condoms available. Some products are made from polyethylene or lambskin. However, lambskin condoms do not protect against STI transmission. How do I know if a product contains latex? Read the labels of all products to see if it contains latex. If a product isn’t labeled, contact the manufacturer. Summary Latex allergies are common and can be managed. With the help of a board certified allergist, you can feel better today. Call NY Allergy & Sinus Centers or visit one of our six locations to treat your latex allergy. We are available six days a week to care for your allergies, asthma, and sinus problems.